Everybody will hit a mid-semester slump at one point in their university life, so the best thing you can do is learn how to cope with it.
Slumps have a way of making you feel like you’re doing something wrong or that your study sessions are useless. They can cause you to think:
“Maybe you’re not in a slump at all — maybe you’re just a failure.”
But, don’t listen! A slump is just a slump and you will be able to get yourself out of it. Most of us can sense when things start going a little downhill, but we still try to ignore. Sometimes by doing this and not acting, you are making it worse, not better. As you might have guessed, the best thing to do is to accept it and start to do something about it.
If you can pinpoint when you first started feeling this way, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Lots of students get this feeling, especially as it gets closer to the end of term – the December/January period is mostly the worst with the dark mornings and evenings. If your slump is not improving and you’re burnt out then it maybe worth reaching out to your university to get help. Stress is something that causes your burnout, so speak to your university or take steps that can manage your stress.
Find a new area to study
One of the first things you need to do to avoid a burnout when you feel it coming on it to get a change of scenery. Sometimes this is all that is required to shift your mindset. So, look for a new location that will motivate you to finish your work. A lot of students like the idea of a coffee shop, or a quiet library that is not the university library with silence to keep you from getting distracted. The most important thing is to discover what works best for you and it that is switching it up every few days they go for it.
Book study spaces
Most student libraries will have the option to book a room or a study space. By booking it, this will motivate you to make sure you are there. You can also book group tables if studying this way helps you to stay on topic.
Avoid burnout: To-do lists
Solving your burnout problems is not going to be a quick fix! It’s also not a competition. It is about starting with small goals and gradually working your way out of your slump. If the study space is not your problem, then you may need to look into giving yourself a schedule to stick to.
When you’re stuck, thinking about a goal can be counterproductive unless you have a strategy in place such as a to-do list or a weekly timetable.
A great way to do this which a lot of universities would recommend is to use a SMART target system. This means setting a target or a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. In other words, you’re not setting a goal without taking action, which will exacerbate your slump if you fail. This has been proven to work and is the best method if you are looking at achieving your goals (whether they be big or small).
Instead of trying to plan your next few weeks, try taking it day by day. Before you go to sleep, create a to-do on paper or on your phone (or wherever you like). Try to plan out the following day. Making sure you use SMART as your guidance – make sure you don’t overload yourself with jobs! Giving timings to your jobs can help. For example, start with catching up on anything you have missed, so that you can get up to speed. I would recommend increasing your list on weekends.
Alternatively, if planning for the long term is something that you think would help with learning how to avoid burnout whilst studying then have a go at creating your own study plan.
Meet up with course mates
Another tip to consider when looking to learn how to avoid burnout while studying is meeting up with other people. This is a great way to avoid a slump by keeping your social life. Speaking through your study material with other people is a great way to retain the knowledge and share the knowledge you have learned. It also means you are spending time with other people to avoid being stuck in your bedroom with your books all day – which is never good!
Get out about about
A lot of students find that when they try to revise at home, they are easily swayed to get back into bed, or to distract themselves by grabbing snacks from the kitchen. If you can work from the comfort of your home with no problems then great! If you struggle, then try getting out and about by taking a walk with course mates in between study sessions. Or do half your day at the library with course mates and half at home.
Attend any classes you usually miss
The majority of students find it better to join in with lectures as they happen, instead of delaying them even further to catch up. By delaying them you cause yourself to become more and more overwhelmed. Your course goes on while you are not there, and this makes it much harder for future you! The hardest part is getting yourself there so try and work on that. Sort your clothes and your bag out the night before, so you have less to do in the morning. Make sure you have done any prep work to avoid any nerves when attending.
Learning how to avoid burnout while studying is going to be the best thing to help you get through your studies. So try to work on this during your busy study periods to avoid a slump. Sometimes all it takes is a few small changes to keep yourself going!