Advice from the Other Side: Staying Motivated

Happy Friday, Terriers! This is the last time that I’ll be talking to you this semester, and I figured I’d end with something that you might really need right now as you face down your final assignments: motivation. How can you motivate yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by end of the semester coursework? It feels impossible, doesn’t it? Firstly, I think it’s very important to recognize how you feel right now and understand that it’s totally normal. Make sure that you’re taking time for self-care and that you’re not pushing yourself ridiculously hard. At the same time, don’t give in to the exhaustion and stress either. Don’t let that one hour break turn into an 8 hour Netflix binge because you’re tired and you feel you deserve it (I’m sure you do, but remember our series on procrastination!). You can push through stress and exhaustion in the following ways:

Look at the bigger picture

College can be very hard, and it’s really important in times of stress to take a step back and remember that whatever you’re feeling or facing is not permanent. Have a 15 page paper to write? You may not want to do it, but it’s crucial to remember that whatever anxiety, stress, or exhaustion you’re feeling surrounding that paper will not last forever (it will actually last much less time if you get to work!). In just a few short weeks, you’ll be able to look back at the work that you put into that paper as a memory of your discipline and strength, and you’ll be more prepared to face next semester’s coursework. Every assignment that you finish in college essentially moves you somewhere that you want to go. Maybe it’s just to a place where you never have to do that assignment again—that’s totally fine. Use that as your motivation! Perhaps it will allow you to move on to a different course that you’re really excited about. Perhaps it will just get you closer to a much-deserved break. Ultimately, every assignment that you successfully complete gets you closer to your post college goals, and that can serve as a source of motivation as well.

Use a rewards system

Sprinkle small rewards for yourself throughout your day as you prepare for your finals. For every two hours of studying, you can reward yourself with a half hour walk outside (or your preferred form of exercise). Do you have a favorite guilty pleasure food or television show? Save it for the end of a hard day of work so that you can really enjoy it—you’d be surprised how motivating it can be to have something waiting for you at the end of a long day. Whatever you do, don’t cheat and reward yourself before you’ve reached your goal for a given period of time—that’s what we call procrastination. Chopping your study period into smaller blocks of time and placing something pleasant at the end of each block can make it much easier to focus on your work even when you’re exhausted by the end of the semester.

Take a deep breath and embrace the last few weeks of the semester—they’ll be over before you know it, so you might as well give it your all!

Sarah Farkas blogs for Advice from the Other Side from the BU Educational Resource Center (ERC).

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