It’s that time of the semester again – you have a ton of assignments to complete and finals are approaching – but most students can barely gather the motivation to open their textbooks.
Burnout and the urge to just curl up and watch a new movie can certainly come at the most inconvenient time of the semester. Have no fear, with a few changes to your study routine you can get back on track with work and reach the finish line more smoothly. Here are ten tips to regain the productivity you need.
1. Let go of the guilt
Are you feeling too far gone because you spent the afternoon binge-watching Netflix? While this may be causing you to put off work more, there’s an easy way to get back on your feet. First, you need to realize that you’re not the only one going through a situation like this. Taking out time for yourself is in fact necessary to recover from a burn-out. Next, start off with a small task such as organizing the rest of your day to refocus and get into work-mode more easily.
2. Schedule Better
While some people may prefer going with the flow, scheduling your day can allow you to stay motivated and on track. Manage your tasks in a way that is achievable, especially drawing on how much time you usually spend on things such as readings or assignments. For some, scheduling in the morning can help set the tone for their day. For others, planning the next day before bed can help destress at night and kick off the morning with work. Take advantage of apps like google calendar or planners to jot down small tasks and upcoming assignments. This will allow you to be prepared for busy weeks.
3. Find and capitalize on your most productive hours
Some of us prefer working in the dead of night, while others work best early morning right after recharging. A task that may take thirty minutes could take three hours when we lack motivation. Once you find your prime time of the day, try to work on your most important or lengthy tasks during that period. Two-hours is the recommended time span for more intensive work, according to an article by Forbes. For the remainder of the day, either rest or complete lighter tasks.
4. Set mini-deadlines
For anyone who’s seen Tim Urban’s TED Talk, which takes a look inside the mind of a master procrastinator, you can probably relate to the panic monster that awakens right before a deadline. To avoid a last-minute and scary encounter with the panic monster, break down your work process into parts and set a deadline for each of them. This will also help you get started on an assignment that seems overwhelmingly big and dreary otherwise. As you continue to practice this, if you have made a mental deadline of 40 minutes or so for a task, shorten it to 30 minutes, so that you are pushed to work faster and stay focused.
5. Study buddy
Try to work with a friend or classmate even if you both are not working on the same thing. Being in a work-focused setting where you are accountable to the other person can help both of you stay on track with studying. However, be sure to find a study buddy who will encourage you rather than bring you down for any fall back with work.
We all know the feeling of constantly wanting to check our phones whether it’s to scroll through Instagram or keep up with WhatsApp texts. While you may think doing this will give you a two-minute break, using your phone or receiving notifications becomes an interruption making it more difficult to get back to work, according to neuroscientists. It also uses up our energy, making us tired more quickly. Therefore, putting your phone away or on mute while you’re studying can prove to be useful.
7. Change of Environment
Rather than continuing to work in the same library where you spent hours cramming for a dreaded exam, change your workspace. This could start off with something small such as cleaning your room to begin studying there or something more adventurous such as going to one of the libraries across Education City (EC) or to one of the many cafes around Qatar. Some good workspace cafés include Graze at EC’s Student Center, Café 999 and Eatopia.
8. Learn to read faster
As a college student, it is important to learn how to speed read. This will save time and energy for other more rigorous assignments. There are a number of speed reading guides available online to help with this. But if you can’t speed read, just work on reading with less distraction and mind detours.
9. Sleep more, Achieve more
Waking up too early or staying up late to study will only be counter-productive especially when you are already burnt out. A study by Oxford also supports that sleeping less than the recommended six to eight hours only decreases productivity and focus. It’s also not good for your health.
10. Cut down on fast food
Frequently eating fast food or junk food weighs you down by reducing your performance and motivation levels, a study on food quality and motivation suggests. Adapting to healthier alternatives will give you the energy you need for the rigor of college life.
It is important to accept that being exhausted at this time of the year is a normal part of college life and does not mean that you will stay burnt out forever. By following the tips that work best for you, little by little, you can start getting work done and wrap up the semester successfully.