I knew this moment would come: I’ve been at university for four long years and the end is nigh. The beginning of the year saw this fact stress me out hugely; would I be lost without my student status? Now I’m about to start my final semester the emotions attached to it have changed, I’m ready for the working world and quite frankly, can’t wait to get into it.
The last few weeks have been a flurry of job applications and CV-preening, which may not sound like a bad thing, but I have my exams next week. Now is the time for textbooks and revision, not CVs, but that’s the problem: I lost my motivation for academia and got carried away into the imaginary world of having a fantastic job and finally getting on with life before I’d completed the vital stage that (hopefully) leads to it. So how to get it back?
At first I thought I was wasting valuable revision time writing blog posts, but then the thought occurred to me that that could be the answer to my motivation need: put simply, if I’m not in the mindset to work on one thing, work on another instead. Many people (myself included) will procrastinate on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube until it’s dark and we realise we’ve done nothing else all day, but how about proactive procrastination? It goes something like this:
Work, work and revise and work some more until your brain splits in two. Then take a break, but use your break sensibly! Do something that could be seen as constructive, practice your writing, blogging, send a few emails to recruiters, flick through the notes for another subject or even do some housework (if you’re feeling really desperate). Your break will have been sensibly used and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to get back to your main task.
A few other quick tips, all learned from experience:
Avoid sugary foods. Chocolate may seem like the ideal study buddy (I write this while sat next to an empty chocolate orange box) but an apple can give combat your craving for sweetness without the lethargic effect sugar has.
Drink water: think of it as literally clearing your cloudy mind.
Think of the future: imagine your life without the exam results you need, do you really want to be working for a fast food chain with a degree?
Go for a walk (but not a long one): some lack of motivation can be put down to the simple case of being restrained to your desk for too long. Get some fresh air and exercise and you’ll feel much more able to apply yourself to your work. Just remember to come back within an hour, and not go into the pub.
And the obvious one: turn off Facebook, or if you’re really brave, take a friend’s suggestion and let someone change your password for a few days*.
*High levels of trust must be in place.