A Guide to Surviving the Last Week of the Semester

A Guide to Surviving the Last Week of the Semester

Finding motivation in a pandemic can be difficult. The never-ending stream of upsetting news updates, paired with the manic Nebraska weather, and the availability of comfy couches can be difficult to not succumb to. And while laying around wallowing in self-pity about the lack of human contact with friends, professors, and classmates can be used to avoid responsibilities, they don’t disappear. When the reality of all of our current situations kicks in, the crushing anxiety of a long to-do list can lead to more avoidance.

While I personally avoided reality over the extended spring break, returning to some semblance of normalcy has helped me adjust to the workload of remote scholarship. Here are my tips for regaining your sanity and productivity in the last few weeks of the semester.

Create a Schedule

This can be as structured or unstructured as what works for you. As a type-A person, I thrive on writing down my tasks and commitments. I have discovered I work best when creating my daily sheet of the tasks I hope to complete and my priorities for the day. I’ve been using a printable I found on Pinterest to organize my plans. In addition to a daily sheet, creating a weekly schedule has allowed me to easily view my commitments and meetings easily. I start by writing out the due dates for the next few weeks, then create small goals and milestones to complete throughout the week. Writing things down increases the likelihood that the task gets accomplished. I personally feel a sense of additional motivation to cross the task off a list. Finding your own organized system can allow your brain a little more peace, while still keeping you moving and motivated.

Get Outside and Move

Going outside for even a few minutes a day can act as a reprieve from the monotony of the indoors, as well as bring some much-needed energy. I typically start my day with a short walk with my dog. I’m lucky to be quarantined with my walk, an avid walker, who keeps me motivated and moving even when I don’t want to. It truly is amazing how much outdoor exercise can create inspiration and energy. Even if you are only able to be outside for a few minutes a day, it will create a lasting impact for your day.

Find Your Fun

While keeping up with deadlines and staying on top of tasks is important, so is prioritizing yourself. Finding a new hobby, or embracing an old one is a great use of free time. Taking breaks and doing something creative and fulfilling can help reduce stress and increase enthusiasm. I have been trying to use my hobbies and interests as breaks for myself, to clear my mind and avoid burnout. With a never-ending stack of books to read and yarn to knit with, I have been keeping my hands busy and my head clear. Your hobby can also act as a motivator to complete tasks. Bollywood movies have become my not so guilty pleasure, so I have been setting aside time after all my tasks are complete, to enjoy those. Creating enjoyable incentives to keep yourself on task is a great way to persuade yourself to do things you don’t want to, but need to.

Be Social From a Distance 

As a bit of an introvert, isolation has its perks. However, I have been surprised at how much I miss my friends and classmates. About half of my classes regularly meet via Zoom, which is a great way to continue to learn with a bit of normalcy. Although, it isn’t the same. As a result of my boredom and desire to socialize with my friends, I roped them into a book club. For you, keeping social could look different. Many students have created study groups to chat with, while keeping each other accountable. Some clubs and organizations on campus have also transitioned to video meetings to stay in touch. I sometimes wonder if this is what my parents felt like with telephone parties (just ask them). Connecting with people, only if for a few minutes a week, can bring more joy and enthusiasm to you than you might think.

While remaining somewhat enthusiastic while plowing through piles of assignments in an isolated space can be difficult, I hope these suggestions offer you some sort of comfort as we wrap up the academic year.