How To Prevent College Burn Out | Motivation, Productivity, Self-Care, Etc.

//My Story//

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on the glorification of being busy and how people pride themselves on how full their schedules are. It was also my one month into sophomore year update. The beginning of the year was crazy, I have a lot more things to do this semester in terms of my job, classes, this blog and my personal goals. My workload has practically doubled compared to last year.

The moment the first week was over, I knew that I was going to burn out if I didn’t make a change.

I wish I could say that I took initiative on my own, but that’s not the case. After that was Labor Day weekend, so I had four days (I don’t have classes on Friday) to recoup. I didn’t feel as exhausted the next week, but I knew it was because it was a shorter week.

And then Hurricane Irma happened. While we didn’t get hit in Georgia, but about half the state lost power. School was canceled for me that Monday and Tuesday, so I had a five day weekend. (A lot of schools didn’t have school on Wednesday and Thursday because they had lost power or flooded).

Normally, I would’ve done work or blogged in that time,  trying to be productive, but my house lost wifi. Thankfully we didn’t lose power like a lot of houses nearby did, but I couldn’t do any blogging work or much of school work. I was forced into taking a break.

I read books and watched T.V without any guilt. It was great! But I also really thought  – about what the hell I was going to do about my full schedule and how to organize my time.

Thankfully, I’ve worked out a system that has really been working. Here’s a breakdown.

Related – The Glorification Of Busy | One Month Into Sophomore Year Update

//Motivation//

At this point of the year, I was plenty motivated, but I knew that burnout came with a sense or lethargy. In order to keep going at the pace I need to go at, I need motivation.

//Look At The Big Picture

This can mean thinking about all the priorities you have, but looking at the big picture also means to not take things as seriously.

I think we’re all guilty of feeling like we’re not doing enough. I feel this constantly, but in the last month, I’ve really given myself some leeway. If I don’t go to the gym for a few days, I don’t bat an eyelash because I know there is a reason for that. A few weeks ago, I didn’t publish a blog post on a Thursday and I didn’t feel bad at all. If I had done that just a few months ago, I would’ve beaten myself up for not being consistent. That’s a huge change for.

I didn’t consciously do this. It sort of happened on its own. There’s power in not giving a crap. I’ve learned not to be a perfectionist over the years and it’s really paid off.

//Make A List Of All Your Responsibilities And Why You Do Them

Why are you doing all this? What goals are you trying to achieve? Having a really good reason to do something is the best motivation. You don’t need to write it down. It can be a mental list but make sure you have a good reason to every item. Otherwise, scratch it off.

//Change Your Work Environment

Staring out the same window and sitting in the same seat can become mundane and boring. Doing my work in a different environment always motivates me to get more work done. I’ve recently started doing work in the dining room (I’m doing that right now), which has really helped me get more done. I can only do this at night because I live with six other people and it get’s loud.

//Cross The Easiest Thing Off Your To-Do List

Nothing motivates me more than crossing things off my to-do list. I know that most people say to “eat the frog” meaning get your hardest task done first, but I think it’s better to do the opposite. Don’t work completely backward, but I think it’s discouraging to spend two hours doing the longest task first. Spend the first-hour crossing three or four things off your to-do list before diving into the big project for the day because you’ll feel great about getting so much done. This’ll give you some drive.

//Productivity & Organization//

//Make A Weekly To-Do List

I have a planner, but in the last few weeks, I’ve been using a notebook. My planner contains all the test dates and due dates for the semester. I use that to create a comprehensive weekly (Mon-Thurs) and weekend (Fri-Sun) to-do lists. This has helped me so much! Aside from class times and appointments, I create the rest of my schedule. I don’t need to do anything at a specific time. My planner didn’t have enough room for my extensive to-do lists, so I write out all my academic, blogging, and personal to-dos in the notebook. I don’t have a picture right now, so I’ll insert one later.

//Know When You’re Doing What

It doesn’t have to be concrete, but you need to organize your time in a productive way. Know your appointments, when you have class, work, etc.

//Know When You’re Most Productive And How You Work

I work so much faster the day before things are due. I know many people preach to get things done early, but that doesn’t always work for me. I start early when it comes to big projects, but there are some assignments where my time is spent more productively the night before. For example, I research and outline my essays early, but I can never get myself to write the entire essay until the day before it’s due. Whenever I try, I end up staring at a word document for an hour procrastinating by reading blog posts.

This doesn’t help anyone. You know yourself better than anyone. If waiting till the last minute works for you and you still get a good grade, go for it.

 

Other Productivity PostsThis isn’t a post on productivity. These are things that have specifically helped me prevent burnout. Here are some of my other posts on this topic.

//Self-Care//

This part is IMPERATIVE if you want to prevent burnout. You can’t spend all your time working. It’s unhealthy. I wrote a whole post on Self-Care last year, so I won’t go too much into it. A huge reason why I haven’t felt so burnt out is that I’ve done the following things:

  • Sleeping 7-8 hours every night
  • Eating 3 Meals A Day
  • Exercising
  • Getting Ready Every Morning/Showering Regularly
  • Reading Books That Have Nothing To Do With School
  • Watching T.V, Netflix, Or YouTube Videos For Fun (Not To Procrastinate)
  • Etc.

Make sure to read the post I’m linking below.

Related – How To Create A College Self-Care Plan (Plus A Look At Mine)

 

//Socialization & Fun//

This is the part I was completely lagging in in the beginning. I still sort of am. I’m good at making time for work and self-care, but I can go days at a time without deep personal conversation without noticing. Don’t get me wrong, I talk to people, but there’s a difference between talking to newer friends and people you’ve known for years.

It’s also important to plan for fun events because it’s nice to get away from your daily routine. It doesn’t necessarily need to be big, but you should have something to look forward to.

  • Spend Time With Friends And Family – Vague, but true. I’m close with my family and live with them, but it’s easy to lock myself in my room to do work.
  • Call A Friend – I am the person who will call you up after months to check how you’re doing. to I haven’t done this enough recently, but it’s great when I do.
  • Go To A Show, Concert, Or Festival – These are fun things to look forward to. I recently bought tickets to watch the Broadway Show Of Lion King. My friends and I look forward to going to the Renaissance Festival every summer. Experiences like those are worth investing in.
  • Grab Lunch Or Coffee With A Friend – Scheduling such a small thing is a great way to prevent burning out. It’s my policy not to do work while I’m eating lunch, so I usually end up watching something on Netflix. Meeting up with a friend is a nice alternative.
  • Go To A Party Or Gathering – The fact that I had to go to family/friend gatherings for Eid a few weekends kept me from working all the time. Having a place you have to be at a specific time will get you off your laptop.
  • Go To A Museum/Zoo/Aquarium  – Or to a pumpkin patch now that it’s fall, but you get the picture. Plan something fun in your own city.
  • Travel – I have quite a few trips planned for the next few months and I am incredibly excited. Just planning for a trip amps me up. It’s great to have something to look forward to.

//Take Away//

The big takeaway here is to not surpass your limits and not guilt yourself over not being perfect. One thing I’ve noticed in the last few weeks of doing all these things is that I don’t procrastinate as much. Sure, I take breaks, but they don’t come with the guilt of thinking I need to do more. I don’t think I’ve surpassed my limits yet, but it’s easy to overextend yourself. In the last few weeks, I’ve said no to some work opportunities and social events because I don’t want to put too much on my plate. That’s the biggest secret to preventing burnout.

 

How have the first two months of school been for you? What do you do when you feel burnt out? How do you prevent it? How do you schedule out your days to stay productive? 

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