If you’re like me, mid-semester burnout has been your nemesis since undergrad. Guess what, it doesn’t get any better in grad school, especially when you’re working a full time job and your classes are 8 weeks long instead of the norm. Yikes. It doesn’t matter how few hours you’re taking, or even if your classes are all online like mine. Mid-semester burnout is still as real as ever. But help is on the way (I hope).
At this point in the semester, you’re either thinking that you’re in over your head, wishing you could drop out, and relying on Google to tell you what else you can do with your undergraduate degree (do I really even need a Master’s?). Stop. Stop it right now. You probably have at least one paper due in the next week and a midterm to cram, I mean study, for. Here are three tips you can start right now to avoid mid-semester burnout!
Plan, Plan, Plan
If you’re like me then you already have a planner, bullet journal, and Gmail calendar ready to go with the weeks assignments, blog posts, etc. If you’re not one of those people… OMG. How do you keep on top of anything? Seriously, stop what you’re doing right now and go buy a planner. (My favorites are here, here, and here). You need to have a plan. Especially if you plan on avoiding burnout at all, let alone before mid-semester. Over the course of my internship/job thingy, I’ve learned about this pretty cool technique called “backwards planning.” Backwards planning is exactly what it sounds like: you start with a due date and work backwards. Genius, right? Backwards planning is a great way to keep your mind engaged with your papers/projects/studying without feeling overwhelmed at the last minute. Not waiting until the last minute is the goal, people. There are a couple of different ways to create a backwards plan. You can use a monthly overview calendar (my favorite), type it up in a word document or excel, or use good old fashioned pen and paper.
Backwards planning isn’t the place to stop, though. Make sure to schedule in the times when you’re actually going to be doing your work. For me, I get a lot of school work done during lunch or slow hours at the office. But this may not work for everyone. Pick a time and place where you can sit and work to your heart’s content. Who doesn’t love a good paper writing session when it means Panera for dinner?
I know, this seems counterproductive but hear me out. If you look at your fancy planner that I’ve hopefully now inspired you to have and notice you have some important dates coming up that don’t involve school, work ahead! You can plan accordingly so that you have time to enjoy things like Valentine’s Day and a long weekend or a quick trip home. Working ahead can even help you avoid mid-semester burnout if you have multiple assignments due on the same day. Take me, for example. Every Wednesday I have to write two discussion posts, one per class. Every Friday, I have to craft up four response postings (each!). And every Monday, I have two writing assignments. I know, right? Anyways, while I may not be able to get a jump start on response postings (even though I do try sometimes), if I have time during the day or in the evening to work on a discussion post or writing assignment, this can greatly ease the burden once the due date comes around! And this goes without saying, but don’t wait until the last minute to put together that final project.
Take Plenty of Breaks
Taking breaks when you’re doing any kind of work or studying is super important. I cannot stress this enough. I always use the 50/10 rule. I work for 50 minutes (or until I have to pee) and then take a 10 minute break. Take that 10 minute break to grab another drink, stretch, answer a text or two. But when those 10 minutes are up, get back to working!
If you’ve done the backwards planning, then you shouldn’t be spending more than an hour or two working each night. I’m a firm believer that studying for four hours straight won’t help you prepare for a test, just like writing for four hours straight won’t make your paper any better. Cramming is only going to make your mid-semester burnout worse. Space out your work. You’ll thank yourself later.
Treat Yo’ Self
This is probably the biggest tip I have for avoiding mid-semester burnout. Taking care of yourself mentally and physically should always be your number one priority. Taking time from a busy week to treat yourself to something nice can be just the thing you need to get that extra boost. If treating yourself is a foreign concept to you, here are some ideas you can try:
- take a relaxing bubble bath (wine, candles optional)
- grab dinner with friends (or your boyfriend)
- watch a movie or TV episode on Netflix (avoid binging, though)
- play with a puppy
- give yourself a mani/pedi
- Target shopping spree
Hopefully you’ve come out of this post feeling a little more empowered to make it through the second half of the semester. Oh, we’re halfway there! (I couldn’t resist). What are some of your go tos for avoiding mid-semester burnout?