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3 Tips for Getting out of a Rut

We’ve all been there: the days are getting lighter, the end of the school year is almost within sight, the idea of summer and endless free time is constantly lingering at the back of our heads… But still a few nagging deadlines and exams are in the way. If only there was any motivation left to prepare for them!

Here are our tips to get over the most insurmountable of ruts, increasing your productivity, and having a successful end to the semester!

Start now

Admittedly, this tip may sound a bit silly, considering getting started is probably the hardest thing of all. But if you are waiting around for a “good moment” to start, it is likely that the good moment will never come: there will always be desks to tidy up, kitchens to clean, or shopping to do. A good way to get started is to promise yourself you’re going to do 5-10 minutes of work, and see where that gets you—once you have started, the momentum will keep you going anyway. 

I find the Pomodoro technique the most useful: a “pomodoro” (tomato in Italian) comprises 25 minutes of work and a 5 minute-break. After a few pomodoro cycles, you’re allowed to take a bit of a longer break, perhaps 15-20 min. Promising myself I will work uninterrupted for 25 min and then get to scroll through Instagram guilt-free is one of the best motivators there is.

To-do lists: your new best friend

I admit I am a bit of a to-do list obsessive. I have all sorts of to-do lists at any given moment, some written on my phone’s notes, others written in my diary, or even in scrap paper lying around my desk. The point is, it doesn’t really matter where the list is written: the key is to have a platform to dump all that’s troubling your mind. 

Once your brain is free from the noise of all you have left to do, you will be able to prioritize effectively and minimize the risk of forgetting anything important: what needs attention first? What tasks will take me the longest? Can I do anything in advance to prepare? 

Set concrete goals

A master’s thesis, an essay or an exam are very big pieces of work: they require hours of preparation and work to be put in, which is why they seem very overwhelming and we keep putting them off for as long as humanly possible, which is sometimes a bit too long. 

When I have promised myself I would “work on my thesis” or “study Finnish”, it has mostly never ended up happening. These goals are too vague to be accomplished, simply because there is nowhere to grasp. The success rate is much, much higher when I have written down in my diary that this Saturday between 10 and 11:30 a.m. I’m going to read and take notes from two articles and then edit my literature review. Of course, it might sometimes feel a little overwhelming to plan your days or weeks in such detail, and it’s not always necessary: but if you find yourself putting off something again and again, you might want to give this a try!


Good luck with your endeavors, academic or otherwise: and remember to take breaks every once in a while as well!


Photos by Unsplash


Esther is majoring in Media and Communications. She likes reading, vegan food, and spending way too much time on social media.
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