The end of the school year is a whirlwind of long-term projects, rapid-fire assignments, and studying for finals. Last units and tests must be given before the year wraps up, and it often feels as if I am drowning in tasks. With extracurriculars on top of all of the academic work, it can be hard to find time to relax in all of the chaos. So, if you are feeling particularly stressed during this shambolic few weeks, here are a few tips to help you remain motivated:
- Make a Plan – It can be really easy to get overwhelmed during a hectic time with lots of due dates, events, daily homework assignments, sports events to keep track of. I have multiple methods for tracking deadlines and more. Immediately when I hear of an event, test, or large due date, I put it on my electronic calendar. Depending on which is more efficient, I either type it into my phone, or laptop which conveniently sync so that I can access it no matter where I am. For smaller, nightly tasks I create a to-do list in my daily planner to help me remember details and checkpoints for more significant assignments.
- Stay Focused – With a busy night ahead of you, it is important to be as productive as possible and reduce distractions. Personally, as the time grows later and later I find my work to be less and less satisfactory, and for me, not getting enough sleep has catastrophic effects on my mood and work ethic for the next day, and even the next week. When particularly swamped, I give my phone to my mom to hold hostage until I finish my work, turn notifications on my laptop to “Do Not Disturb”, and put on my favorite study music app, traumbaum (available in the Mac app store).
- Change it Up – Sometimes, the best thing to do to stay focused on a particularly difficult assignment is to give yourself a change of pace. I have a Sunday morning ritual of walking to a local cafe, ordering breakfast, and sitting down to power through as much homework as possible. I find the environment comforting, and familiar and the added condition of people potentially watching your productivity gives me the extra motivation to finish up an especially difficult annotated bibliography or literary essay.
- Utilize Your Surroundings – Often the best resources for asking questions are right in front of you and you don’t even realize. While studying for big tests, one of the best methods of learning is teaching someone else the material by boiling it down to simple terms; it not only helps to solidify topics already learned but also highlights holes in understanding. I often FaceTime my friends to discuss biology and teach each other topics we may be unclear about or explain a complex topic to my parents in a way that makes sense to someone without background knowledge. School librarians are another resource frequently overlooked. They can be a great way to get support, especially for big research projects.
- Chill Out – The best way to not burn out is to take breaks. While it may not seem practical in the midst of a busy week, overworking yourself can be just as detrimental as not trying at all. Normally I take Saturdays off from all school work and give myself a day to catch up with things that I like to do. I love to take long, spontaneous walks, play with my dogs, sleep in, and lounge inside watching Netflix, whatever I feel will refresh me and reenergize me for the week ahead. I also find it crucial to take small breaks during the week, whether that be a 10-minute snack break to chat with my mom or spending 5 minutes responding to friends’ texts after finishing a reading assignment.
These tips are simply what I have found works for me most of the time. They might not work for you, and that is okay! Next time you find yourself lacking in motivation, try one, or all of these tips out and you may find yourself ready to take on your mountain of homework.
Good luck and study hard!