I always loved the beginning of the semester. I had a new schedule, new notebooks, and new ideas for staying on my A-game. There’s nothing quite like a blank slate to get you motivated.
The end of the semester? Well, that was another story. There were no fresh notebooks or fresh slates. Break was so close I could taste it. It’s hard to avoid academic burnout when freedom is right around the corner, but with final projects and exams looming, it’s more crucial than ever to stay focused. If you find your motivation waning as summer gets closer and closer, try implementing a few (or all!) of these ideas to finish your semester strong.
Break your to-do list into manageable, bite-size pieces.
Have you ever had so much to do that you ended up… doing nothing? Feeling overwhelmed with end of semester work can be the biggest enemy of productivity, and lead to some intense academic burnout. This is why it’s key to make several mini, manageable to-do lists that you can handle one at a time.
Don’t make a massive list of everything you need to accomplish by the end of the semester. Look at your schedule and make a list of everything you need to accomplish by the end of the day, or even just the end of one library session. Be realistic, and don’t give yourself more than you can handle. Each time you cross something off your mini-list, you’ll get a surge of satisfaction that will keep you motivated.
Give yourself study perks.
This one might not work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me. Before finals began each semester, I always spoiled myself with certain study goodies that would make the process a bit more enjoyable. One semester, I splurged on a set of high-quality markers to make flashcard-making more fun (and colorful)! Another semester, I got a new pair of sweatpants that I’d been eying… but I only let myself wear them when I was in the library. Sometimes, the treat was as simple as a massive caramel latte with more sugar than I’d care to know. It may sound silly, but anything that makes those long library sessions or lectures more pleasant will help you avoid feeling totally and completely burned out.
Change up your routine.
If you’ve studied in the carrel on the same floor of the same library every single evening all semester, it’s really no wonder you’re feeling burned out. By the end of the year, you might be dreading heading back to that familiar spot. So don’t!
Simply getting a change of scenery can help you refocus. Find a sunny spot on a patio to hunker down and work, or scope out a cozy corner in a coffee shop. Try waking up early and getting stuff done in the morning instead of leaving everything until the evening. Changing up your studying routine is a refreshing way to break the monotony and get you through these final weeks.
Embrace down time (and treat yo’ self).
You will not get an award for being the busiest person during final exams. Many students pride themselves on being go, go, go during the home stretch, studying from sun up to sun down – but that’s the quickest way to total academic burnout. While it might sound counterintuitive, taking regular breaks from the grind can be the best way to stay productive and driven.
Break up a full day of studying, classes, or homework by doing something you enjoy. Study for a few hours, and then go workout. Finish an assignment, and watch a funny show on Netflix. Take your exam, and then go out to eat with friends before cracking open your books to start studying for the next. Give your brain a break, and you’ll return to your work feeling reinvigorated and ready.
Get enough sleep.
I won’t be naïve – I know there will be nights when you’re up until 4 a.m. finishing a paper or reading those last few chapters in your textbook. It just happens. However, I can’t tell you how many nights I chugged a few coffees too many and resolved to stay up until my morning exam just to “take advantage” of those precious few hours of studying. In reality, I stopped absorbing information long before the sun rose, and I ended up heading to my exam groggy and miserable.
Try as hard as you can to get things done before the last minute so you can prioritize your sleep. Nothing leads to academic burnout (or an illness, for that matter) quicker than a lack of sleep. I promise, a few extra hours of sleep can be just as beneficial as a few extra hours of studying.
Remember how close the finish line is!
You’ve got a realistic to-do list in front of you, you’ve got a free day to get things done, you’re stocked up with study snacks, and yet… you still aren’t feelin’ it. The academic burnout is real. Sometimes, the only thing you can do is to repeatedly remind yourself how close the finish line really is. You’ve only got x, y, and z standing between you and closing out the semester or school year. Keep your eyes on the prize – it’s right in front of you! Write that last paper, take that last exam, and then treat yourself to a long, long nap. You deserve it.