Beat the Burnout: Five Steps to Help You Finish the Trimester Strong

Olivia Palmbos (’23) provides tips and tricks to help Skyline students tackle the last push to final’s week. “Approaching a massive to-do list on your own can feel hopeless, but this does not have to be the case…Communicating with those you are working with will open the door to receiving support, accommodations, and/or agreeable solutions that will help you manage and get ahead of your workload.”

As spring break draws nearer and the second trimester comes to an abrupt and rapid end (courtesy of three unexpected back-to-back snow days), it is easy for students to wind down and kick back their feet in anticipation of spring and summer vacation. However, just as students are beginning to feel the slow-motion slog of academic burnout, the workload and assignments begin to step up with the looming presence of finals week on the horizon. With depleted motivation weighing students down more and more heavily with each passing day, the task of staying on top of the to-do list – and the homework assignments due before finals – begins to feel impossible. How do we stay on top of our workloads without falling prey to lack of motivation? In this article, I have compiled several tips, tricks, and strategies that may help you stave off the burnout, and stay motivated till the end of the trimester. 

Step #1: Communicate and get the support you need.

When dealing with a pileup of work and a decrease in motivation, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, discombobulated, and even isolated. Approaching a massive to-do list on your own can feel hopeless, but this does not have to be the case. When it comes to dealing with a heavy workload, communication with teachers, students, and peers is key. Communicating with those you are working with will open the door to receiving support, accommodations, and/or agreeable solutions that will help you manage and get ahead of your workload. 

Step #2: Set up an accountability partner.

Now that you have communicated with friends and teachers about where you’re at on your academic to-do list, reach out to a responsible friend to hold you accountable for sticking with your plan. Setting out to cope with a large amount of work on your own will inevitably lead to a loss in motivation, and your assignments may fall to the wayside as a result. However, working with a partner will ensure you accomplish what you set out to do. Talk with a partner to check in about your homework load at the end of the day, or go to a library together in order to immerse yourself into a work mindset and setting. By surrounding yourself with work-conscious companions and studying with equally motivated peers, you will hold yourself responsible to complete all of the items on your to-do list.

Step #3: Separate work and relaxation.

Although working from home is often simplest, (and, frankly, a common habit that carried over the pandemic), separating the environment that you work in and the environment that you relax in is beneficial to boost productivity. Trying to find focus in a setting that is more frequently used for play or relaxation can be a difficult task; so, as enticing as it may sound to do your homework from the comfort of your bed, instead try designating a location at which to work, and a location at which to wind down. Whether this means christening the spare room in your house as the designated study spot, or going so far as to visit a library to finish up your math homework, finding the right atmosphere in which to be productive will make all the difference! 

Step #4: Block out your work time and break time. 

Many times, it is easy to either get sucked so thoroughly into a task that you forget to take care of yourself, or to neglect it so harshly that nothing gets done. When trying to maximize your productivity and minimize burnout, it is critical to find ways to walk a fine line between these two polar opposites. While you don’t want to spend too much time on one particular task to the point where you neglect your own needs, you also want to work effectively and efficiently on your assignments. Try blocking out your homework time using websites such as Pomodoro or Tomato Timer. Platforms like these will allow you to set a time period for work, and a time period for getting up to walk around, get a drink or water, or simply relax your brain.  With these toolkits, you should be able to find a happy-medium between blocking out productive work time, and taking time to care for yourself.

Step #5: Reward yourself for your hard work.

Assigning awards after you accomplish specific goals will help you not only stay motivated to complete the tasks at hand, but also recognize and celebrate all of your accomplishments. Rewards such as snacks, break times, or doing one of your favorite pastimes after completing each individual task on your to-do list will help you stay engaged with your work, and make work-time feel like less of a slog, and more of an enjoyable opportunity. 

Between these five steps – and countless other measures that can be taken to finish the trimester off strong – students can tie off their end of trimester exams neatly and start the following trimester on steady footing (regardless of whatever snow days are thrown in our path). Good luck on finals, Skyline Eagles, and finish the Tri off strong.

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