The end of the semester can be the most difficult time for keeping motivation high, especially when the holidays are right around the corner. This year, many of us are either going home for the remainder of the semester or have been at home for the entirety of it. If you’re anything like me, this only increases the lack of productivity. It seems like recently, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep myself motivated, especially while at home.
With the added pressure of a pandemic, I know it may seem like there is no end in sight. We are in the home stretch, but the last few weeks of classes and especially finals week can be daunting. Particularly right now when morale and motivation are at an all time low. To combat this a little, I’ve compiled a list of 5 tips to help you stay on top of things this semester without jeopardizing your mental health in the process.
1) Organize Your Schedule at the Beginning of the Week
Take some time at the start of your week to plan out everything that needs to get done, and when the best times are to do it. By laying out all of your assignments at once, you can get a better sense of how much work you have and how much time should be spent on each task during the week. If you have somewhat of a to-do list everyday, you’ll get your work done more swiftly and efficiently. You might also find that checking things off your list is motivating!
Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a very organized person, try this tactic for a week. Give yourself the time to open up your planner or checklist everyday, and see if it makes a difference in your productivity and motivation levels. You might even feel that your workload looks smaller when split up in an orderly fashion.
2) Take At Least 1 Day Per Week to Fully Rest Your Mind
Whether it’s staying inside to watch movies and relax, spending time outside or doing your favorite hobby, allow yourself to have this day completely free. If you just don’t have the time, try to get these days in as much as you can, or allot part of your day for this; it will avoid burnout and likely feed your motivation for the rest of the week.
When we try to relax without allowing our brains to rest, we can feel as though this personal time is not deserved. By blocking this time out of your week, you can feel guilt free knowing this is not procrastination, you don’t need to be productive on these days, and you are essentially helping yourself more by giving your body and mind the relaxation they deserve.
3) Change Your Work Setting a Few Times during the Week
If you’re at home with all remote classes, it can start to feel like you have no separation between school and home. In fact, doing work in your room can actually make it harder to sleep at night because you have no differentiation between your work setting and your home setting. Changing up the place in which you work a few times per week can provide some clarity, and maybe an extra spark of motivation.
If there is a coffee shop or cafe near you that allows indoor seating, try setting your schoolwork up there sometimes. Starbucks and Panera Bread are great options for this in my area, so finding one of those or something similar is a simple way to have a change of scenery. If this doesn’t work for you, even switching the place in your home in which you do work can be beneficial. If you’re used to doing work in your room, switch to the kitchen for a day. Definitely give it a try in one way or another, and observe your productivity level--you might just surprise yourself!
4) Set Up Times to Do Work with a Friend
If any of your friends are in the same boat as you (and the likelihood is, they are), try planning time for you to get together to do work. Even if this ends up taking you more time to complete assignments, you can still hold each other accountable and have some fun while doing it. This might help you feel less alone during an inherently lonely time, and also take away some of the dread that online school can bring.
If you can find someone who has any of the same classes with you, that’s even better! Working together on an assignment can help ideas flow and build your understanding of the course material. If you’re not able to sit down with a friend in person, try it over a phone call or FaceTime. Anything that allows you to have some social interactions can really boost your morale.
5) Reach Out if You’re Feeling Too Overwhelmed
You don’t have to be ashamed if it feels like your responsibilities are just too much to bear right now. Your mental health should come way before your schoolwork, and if you just can’t seem to get through, it’s important to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Sometimes, just having a conversation with a loved one can help you get to the bottom of your stress, and other times it could be beneficial to speak with a therapist about the source of your overwhelmed mind. If necessary, have a short conversation with your professors about your mental health; if they’re reasonable people, they’ll help you out in feasible ways.
Don’t let the stigma around mental health stop you from seeking help or advice. It’s okay to not be okay, especially during a time when everyone is in some state of mental turmoil. Lean on the people and resources around you when you need to--you’re not in this alone.
It’s okay to fall a little behind sometimes. There is so much on our plates regardless of schoolwork, so don’t be too hard on yourself if this isn’t your best semester. Your motivation is going to undulate, and it’s most important to give your mind what it needs to succeed. If this means skipping a few assignments to keep your sanity, it’s not the end of the world. If you find that your mental health is better when you’re more productive, refer back to this list for some guided inspiration.
No matter what situation you’re facing right now, you’re killing it. Things will get better, things will get easier, and you are capable of achieving so much, even through hardship. We’re almost there!