Staying Motivated in the Lead Up to Exams
Mid-semester break and the week before exams are the times when you’re at your best. After all, it’s easy to find motivation when you really have to work. But what about the weeks in between? How do you stay on track during those grey weeks sandwiched between post-mid-semester break and exams?
You’ve just finished your last assignments for the semester: all completed, submitted and presented. You can’t remember not being in the library and what you consider your last decent sleep was an open-mouthed drool on the train coming home. Because you don’t have anything else due before exams there’s every temptation to reward your hard work with a bit of time off. Surely the work you put into your assignments means you can skip just one class, right?
While I’m all for justifying missing lecturers, letting yourself off the hook “just this once” can be dangerous. One lecture becomes two, missing a reading means missing a tute (because you won’t understand the material anyway) and soon enough a week has gone by, you’re behind in everything, you have no desire to play catch up and instead you waste your time and energy on feeling guilty.
To avoid falling into the guilt trap, take stock of your situation. How are you feeling? What do you have to do this week? What are your priorities?
Make a list of the things that are weighing on you: feeling tired, feeling unmotivated, lectures to attend, readings to do, part-time work, sleep, your general health and exercise routine. From this list, identify the things that are non-negotiable, like your health and sleep patterns, and the things that can be postponed or reduced, like part-time work.
You’ve identified the things that are most important to you; now make them happen. Feeling tired and languid? Pencil eight hours into your daily timetable. Feeling lethargic? Draw little boxes in your diary and tick off your fruits and vegetables for the day and hold yourself accountable for your health. Feeling unmotivated? Create a study timetable, sort out your to-do list and cull what’s least important.
Hang in There
Think of these four weeks not as another chunk of semester, but as a challenge for you to overcome. It’s not supposed to be easy but planning will help. Identify what you need to do, and think of strategies to get it done. Staying on top of lectures and readings will be challenging, but planning will allow you to avoid falling into the trap of feeling guilty, disorganised and unmotivated.
Most importantly, take care of yourself and remember that holidays will be here soon enough!
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