Five minute activities for revision breaks

Fun things to do inbetween working hard


Recently I received an email involving tips for self-care during exam term, including a reminder to take revision breaks. Solid advice but I expect you’re wondering how long these breaks should be. Twenty minutes? Half an hour? Well, dear reader, the suggested length was in fact five minutes. Shorter, perhaps, than I expected but who am I to contradict the mighty wisdom of Peterhouse? So, here are some fun ideas for things you can do in your five minute revision breaks.

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The email in question

1) Go to the toilet: Five minutes should be long enough to get to your staircase bathroom, go for a wee, thoroughly wash your hands and then return to your desk. With only five minutes you’ll have to prioritise needs over wants so if you need the toilet, that’s how you’ll have to spend your five minutes.

2) Make a hot drink: this one is lifted straight from the email. Depending on your preference five minutes may not be enough time to both boil the kettle and let your tea steep but if you make herbal tea you can take it back with you and wait for it to infuse, then drink it while you work. Buying several varieties of tea may help this break activity seem a little more thrilling. You can multitask by deciding which flavour to brew while the kettle boils, and with only five minutes multitasking is a must.

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She's brewing, I'm working

3) Go for a short walk: Another one from the email. Five minutes is probably enough time to put on your shoes, walk to the porters lodge and back before you have to knuckle down again. That’s definitely a scenic and worthwhile route! Aren’t you glad to have taken some time to get some fresh air? Sure, it was only four and half minutes of fresh air but every little helps.

4) Apply a face mask: five minutes is enough time to cleanse your face and then apply a lovely and relaxing face mask. Sadly, most face masks take ten to twenty minutes to dry, so you’ll have leave it on until the next revision break but that just means you already have something exciting planned for your next luxurious five minutes of freedom.

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I was going to use a photo of me doing a face mask but it looked like blackface so this boring picture is ultimately less of a threat to my future career

5) Check your emails: with only five minutes opening social media is a big mistake, you’ll get sucked in and spend far too long scrolling through your feeds. But something as boring as checking your emails will probably take up the perfect amount of time. You may even find time to fire off a quick response to one of two emails, although you probably won’t have time to proofread your replies for typos.

6) Microwave a ready meal: most ready meals take four or five minutes to cook, so you’ll just have time to heat one up. After waiting five minutes for it to heat, you’ll have to leave eating it until your next break, by which time it will have gone cold, but such is life when you’re revising for tripos.

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Can't wait to eat this after it's cooled down in an hour!

7) Read a book: okay, obviously you can’t read a whole book. Apparently the average reading page is a page every two minutes, so you’ll probably only manage two or three pages of a book. But still, that means it will only take 100 breaks to read a 300 page book, assuming you manage three pages per break. So you might just about finish a book by the times exams are over, wow!

8) Watch a David Dobrik video: most Youtube videos hit the ten minute mark nowadays but with five minutes you have ample time to watch a David Dobrik vlog, since they are always 4.20 minutes long. As you watch you can thank God that you, unlike David Dobrik’s friends, aren’t being shot at with a paintball gun for clout.

9) Meditate: If you’re feeling a bit stressed by all the work you’ve been doing then maybe you should try five minutes of meditation to help. It is possible you’re actually stressed because you’ve only been having five minute breaks, instead of proper ones, but probably it’s not that at all, because otherwise, why would they recommend such meagre breaks? The meditation will definitely cure it, no need to take more time off.

10) Listen to ‘Tainted Love’ (twice): Most songs are around three minutes so with five minutes you won't have time to listen to two, but one isn’t long enough. However at two minutes and thirty three seconds you just about have time to listen to Soft Cell’s classic hit twice. I don’t know guys, I’m really scraping the barrel here, there really aren’t that many things you can do in five minutes. Perhaps that email wasn't so wise after all, and you should just feel free to take a longer break to revive yourself.