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Students studying at a large table on campus
March 26, 2019
3 mins read

How I found motivation to beat year-end burnout

If you’re reading this, chances are you're putting off a paper or avoiding studying for finals. At this point, you’ll try anything that will get you motivated.

You've come to this post in an attempt to regain the pizzaz in your study routine from back in September...or at least make it to Block Party without crying over that paper worth 50% you did the night before it was due.

As a 4th year student, I’ve gone through the same year-end burnout over and over. Before, my main methods of coping were 3-hour Netflix marathons and staying up till 4:00 am to cram illegible notes into my tired brain. My main motivation came from my fear of failing my courses.

I didn’t find motivational podcasts very useful and my lack of sleep was becoming problematic, so, in 3rd year, I decided to do something about it.

I’ve since learned healthier ways to motivate myself and, this year, I feel more on top of things and ready to kiss the term goodbye. Here are some quick (and sometimes unconventional) ways that have helped me—and can help you—get motivated:

Create an energizing routine

If you’re already feeling groggy the moment you wake up, chances are you won’t be able to focus when it comes to getting your work done. Trick your mind into getting into the zone by boosting your body with natural energy.  

1. Shower in the morning, not at night

Keep the temperature of your morning showers slightly below the usual to get blood pumping through your veins.

2. Get physical

Relieve your frustration with these quick, easy tips to get moving during your study breaks. (Personally, I also find screaming into my pillow just as effective in releasing pent-up stress.)

3. Use music

If you like to listen to music while you work, make strategic playlists to get in the zone. For example:

  • Playlist 1: ”You Got This”—music that gets you pumped and excited. Listen to it when you’re on your way to class, on the bus, or anytime you’re headed somewhere to get productive. Never listen to this when you’re actually doing work.
  • Playlist 2: ”Get It Done”—your favourite Tchaikovsky Op., songs with a slow bass, or general coffee shop music. Only listen to this when you’re actually studying to get yourself in a focused headspace.   

Gain momentum in your productivity

Create a to-do list that starts off simple, and throw in things you need to actually get done. When it comes to your academic goals for the day, start with the most difficult task to accomplish—it’ll make that final stretch more manageable.

Find a checklist method that works for you. If I need to start my paper that’s due in 3 days, here’s what my checklist on a typical Sunday will look like:

  • Take out the garbage
  • Prepare lunch (cheese sandwich and apple)
  • Find a study spot in Irving
  • Write first 1000 words of English paper (due Wednesday!)
  • Lunch break at the Rose Garden
  • Meet Alex to review Biology midterm
  • Grab a smoothie
  • Add another 500 words to English paper
  • Grab groceries for dinner (pasta, corn, tomato sauce)

The satisfaction of checking off each task is a great motivator to keep on chugging along. Taking things step by step will allow you to clearly focus on the task at hand, and avoid getting overwhelmed.

Get everyone involved

Tell your parents, grandparents, dogs, roommates, and that person you awkwardly ride the bus with everyday about what you’re going to accomplish that day.

Keep yourself accountable through other people (even though they probably don’t need to know the step-by-step outline of your study plan). Speak your goals into existence!

Plus, speaking from experience, I can assure you that your parents won't forget that you said you’d finish your paper before 12:00 am, or that you promised (and forgot) to take out the garbage again that week (sorry, Mom).

End-of-year burnout is real and, as tempting as it may be to snuggle under your blankets and stress watch The Office again, you have things to do.

When you finally get to that last exam, looking back at all that you’ve accomplished is going to feel amazing.