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How to get out of a mid-semester rut

Having just entered week eight of the semester, it’s easy to have fallen into a rut. Especially with the weather getting colder, it can seem like any motivation to do well in school has practically washed itself down the drain, never to be found again. 

There are still seven weeks left in the semester, so not time to give up just yet. Here are seven tips on how to get out of that mid-semester slump and make it to the finish line:

Find a new workspace

It’s not uncommon to feel more motivated and productive when doing work somewhere other than your home or dorm. It’s scientifically proven that when an individual feels they are being observed, they tend to alter their behavior for better or for worse. (So, doing work in a public setting.) 

If you find you are having a hard time doing schoolwork in your dorm or bedroom, it’s likely because your brain associates this surrounding with relaxing, rest and sleep. Consider switching up your environment in which you get your work done. Coffee shops, Alden Library and Baker Center are perfect places to do so.

Adopt a “done is better than perfect” mentality

The feeling of just sloppily doing work just to get it over with most likely won’t leave you feeling great. You should want to be proud of the work you’re submitting. You will feel better about yourself and more motivated to complete other work if you’re giving each assignment your best shot. 

That being said, however, don’t become a perfectionist – you’ll drive yourself crazy. If you’re in a rut, you likely don’t care about your grades, or if you do, you don’t have the energy to do anything to make them better. Adopting a “done is better than perfect” mentality can lower the bar for you and make getting assignments done a little bit more of a feasible task. It’s better than getting a zero on the assignment.

Set small goals

When you’re in a rut, even just getting out of bed can feel like an impossible task. Setting small, bite-size, achievable goals will make it easier for you to complete what needs to be completed. The goal might just be “get out of bed,” but the good news is that is in fact achievable. 

Once you have that done, move onto the next bite-sized task. Breaking up your to-do list into small tasks as such makes everything you have to do seem all the less daunting. And don’t forget to reward yourself for achieving these goals, too. Doing five things off of your to-do list could be rewarded by an episode of your current favorite show.

Move your body 

Sometimes if you’re lacking motivation, it can help to get out of the house. Visiting the gym for a quick workout or getting in a short run on the bike path to get your blood pumping can make you feel rejuvenated and ready to take on your next task. The runner’s high is real.

Find a buddy also in a rut

Accountability can be a huge help when you feel like slacking. Try to find a friend who is also in a rut who you can hold accountable and vice versa. This friend can not only hold you accountable but can also become a study buddy. You can meet up with each other and walk to your favorite coffee shop or the library and motivate each other to get your work done.

Take periodic breaks from work

Don’t work yourself into a dead end. Taking breaks can help you avoid burnout and a break can also serve as your reward for getting something done. Every 30 minutes of studying can be rewarded with a five-minute break, or whatever timing works for you. Either way, it isn’t realistic to study for five hours straight and be able to retain all of that information. 

Adopt a “finish strong” mentality

The semester ends on Dec. 9, which is right around the holiday season. You’ll want to be able to enjoy the holidays knowing you gave all your classes your best effort instead of sloppily slacking just for the sake of getting through. 

Finish off the semester the right way by studying for those final exams all night and getting feedback on final papers. Knowing that you worked your hardest will make the relaxing time with friends and family over winter break all the more enjoyable.

There are seven weeks left in the semester. You are more than halfway there. And if you can’t believe we’re already at week eight, just imagine how fast the next seven weeks will go by. Be kind to yourself, believe in yourself and finish strong.


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