There’s no denying it. Ground school is a tough slog. Its long hours in the classroom, there’s the studying at night and the weekend and the never-ending flow of information to learn. If I’m being brutally honest, while some subjects are extremely interesting, some are extremely dry, which all together can make it arduous at times. That being said, there is always time to enjoy yourself during ground school. It’s extremely important to give yourself time off and let the brain relax, unwind and recover. If you don’t the risk of burning out will be high. This was something I was told from day one with L3Harris.
Taking time off doesn’t have to mean taking a whole morning or afternoon off. For me, it was the simple things like going out a walk, going to the gym to relax in the sauna, going for a coffee, or watching a TV show. On days I wanted to take a bit more time off, I would drive down to Leamington Spa to go for a walk around the park, go out for drives and listen to a podcast in the car, or spend a morning or evening watching a movie. With London being only an hour away by train, I even went down to indulge in a few art exhibits and to visit friends.
I also had family come visit me a few times. On those occasions I would take the full weekend off. I had planned my work the week prior and the week after so that I knew I would still be up to speed on things despite the large time off. I took my family to Leamington Spa for brunch, Stratford-Upon-Avon for shopping and to go on the Shakespeare tour, and down to Bicester Village for a bit of retail therapy. I also managed to go back home a few times, mostly after I had my exams, but it’s amazing how just a few days away from it all really helped me to feel fresh and ready to go onto the next set of subjects.
But of course, that all accounts for a very small amount of the time off I took. The majority of the time off was spent with my housemates. I personally couldn’t have asked for a better group of housemates. We had a PlayStation and a TV in our house, so it was common for us to play quick 10-minute games of FIFA, which often turned into a few games! On nights when we wanted a bit more time off we would watch a movie, or if it was on, the football or rugby. Every night during the week, we would take it in turns to cook dinner and then eat together, while on a Sunday morning it rather quickly became a tradition for me to make Sunday brunch for the whole house. Cooking is a really good way to take your mind off work I found. We also would go out for brunch and dinner, nights out, to the cinema or bowling, and had nights out to celebrate birthdays too. We even had a weekend trip away to Wales! Simple things, which at the time didn’t seem like much, really do make a massive difference in your mental state, as it takes your mind off work, at least for a little while.
We did of course socialise with the rest of our class and the other classes within the school, and even the instructors a few times. We had a few nights out for curries, or to the pub and out in the town, sometimes we had people round for BBQs and played 5-a-side football (I personally didn’t take part in this one, wrong shape of ball for me).
While all of the above might make it sound like we spent more time relaxing than working, in reality, it accounted for a very small percentage of our time. A properly planned work schedule will allow you to have plenty of time off. However, it’s about quality over quantity. The time you take off should be at times when you can allow to take the time off and allow your brain to ease off the thrust and power down slightly, or even sit at idle. And it goes without saying, going to bed at night counts as taking time off too. Sometimes you need to go to bed early or take an extra hour in bed to ensure you study productively. As I said at the start, taking time off is important to ensure that you’re able to work at your full potential. It’s an odd thing to say, but taking time off from your studies will improve the results you get.