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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Krea chapter.

It’s natural to find yourself hitting a wall at some point during your academic journey. The Indian education system in particular asks a lot of its students. It is par for the course to feel overwhelmed by the weight of various expectations imposed upon you. All too often, the pressure culminates in feeling burnt out. You might experience a crippling lack of motivation and your performance in school and other spheres of life—perhaps friendships or the pursuit of your hobbies—takes a hit. Many people have taken to calling this a slump.

Once you’ve found yourself in this scenario, it seems like an insurmountable task to pull yourself out of it. With a nudge in the right direction, though, it’s more than possible to boost your productivity and get the better of the dreaded demon – procrastination. A word of caution, though: it is likely that most of the pointers on this list are things that you already know but are hesitant to act on. Sometimes you simply need reminders of knowledge that already exists for that nudge in the right direction. Allow these points to serve as your reminders. 

  1. Set Realistic Expectations 

If you find yourself in a slump, it is of paramount importance that you start slow. It may seem like you cannot afford to slow down when you have a mountain of tight deadlines fighting for your attention. But learning to manage your time in a way that leaves you with room to breathe, take a step back and assess the bigger picture is the ideal place to start. You cannot expect to complete ten topics of a subject and two assignments of another on your first day of actively working your way out of your slump. Such unrealistic expectations create room for disappointment and further demotivation. Setting realistic expectations for yourself by creating attainable goals is the healthiest and surest way of seeing results. Your first to-do list may even look like this: 

  • uncheckedMake Bed in the Morning 
  • uncheckedComplete 5 Math Problems 
  • uncheckedRead 4 Pages of Assigned Reading 
  • uncheckedGo for an Evening Walk 

It might not seem like you’re getting anything done in the first few days of adhering to such seemingly insubstantial to-do lists, but the little things truly add up. Once you’ve begun feeling the accomplishment of completing these little tasks over an extended period of time, you’ll naturally find yourself ready to take on more challenging commitments. 

  1. Arrange a Change of Scenery 

An incredibly effective tactic for boosting productivity is to offer yourself a change of scenery. This can entail anything from setting up base in a different corner of your house to travelling to a park on the other side of town—or anything in between the two extremes. A change in your immediate surroundings is incredibly refreshing; it offers a sense of novelty that clears away some of the lethargy or demotivation brought on by a slump. It is only when you switch things up that you realise that your environment plays a central role in determining your mood and consequently, your productivity levels. 

  1. Divide your Work into Manageable Chunks 

When you’re in the beginning stages of getting back on your feet, every task can seem colossal. To prevent yourself from getting intimidated and bowing out of the ring entirely, sit down with your task list and break everything down systematically. For instance, simply rephrasing the task “Complete ABC Course Reading” to “Read Pages 1-6 of ABC Course Reading” works wonders in making the task seem more doable. Your mental barriers contribute a great deal to the feeling of a slump. Rephrasing your task list into simpler language and distributing your workload throughout the week can make the same tasks seem less intimidating and more doable.

  1. Study with Friends 

A study buddy, given that they have similar aspirations: 

  1. holds you accountable, and;
  2. makes studying more enjoyable 

Studying alongside peers with a similar workload and task list could help alter the image of studying you’ve conjured in your brain from that of a foe to a friend—because you’re quite literally studying with a friend. An environment of motivated friends can provide you with motivation that you may lack.

  1. Invest in Self-Care

It is important that—amidst everything—you make an active, conscious effort to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. Think of maintaining your health as greasing the wheels of a vehicle. Eating all of your meals on time, hydrating sufficiently, getting your sleep schedule back on track and setting aside at least one night a week to simply relax and unwind is imperative if you wish for your gears to continue running smoothly. Neglecting your rudimentary needs is not conducive to boosting productivity levels and will only send you back to square one in the event of mental or physical overload.

  1. Be Kind to Yourself

At the end of the day, the most important reminder of all the ones on this list is the reminder to be kind to yourself. Give yourself the grace you would give any beginner that isn’t you. It is always easier to empathise with others than it is to empathise with yourself, but remembering that you’re trying just as hard as someone else working with the same circumstances should put things into perspective. Beating yourself up over not doing more right off the bat does not serve any purpose except to make you feel worse than when you started. Allow yourself a grace period where you acknowledge that you’re doing everything in your power to climb out of the pitfalls of academic burnout. 

It is, as they say, a “canon event” to find yourself in a studying slump at least once in your time in academia. You can, however, interfere and pull yourself out of it by trying any number of the methods above or even any others that you feel might work for you! Regardless of which one calls to you, remember that everything has a way of working out ultimately.

Niharika Banerjee is an undergraduate student and the foremost proponent of tsundoku—the Japanese art of buying books but never reading them. She’s an expert at carrying a conversation about a book she’s read only halfway and making it seem like it’s been read twice over. Despite this, the love of reading is something that has been innate to her. Writing entered the picture later and has been her only personality trait ever since. Although she has a proclivity for slice-of-life fiction, she’s always ready to take on a challenge when it comes to writing.