The end is finally in sight, but banana bread and zoom quizzes just don’t seem to be cutting any more.
For many of us, the novelty of last year’s initial lockdown has well and truly worn off. Cold and gloomy mornings make pressing the snooze button even more tempting, and suddenly the commute from your bed to the kitchen seems more tiring than your £5 for 5k challenge.
If you’re struggling to keep up any kind of routine, you’re not alone. Here’s some advice to help you regain your energy and to keep up the motivation until June 21st.
1. Set and stick to a morning routine
While staying in your pyjamas and working from the sofa might be just as appealing as binge watching the entire series of Bridgerton, setting and sticking to a clear morning routine can help prevent you from losing focus and burning out.
Whether you’re studying or applying for graduate jobs from home, it’s important that you get up and dressed, eat breakfast, and spend some time doing something you enjoy before settling into your workspace. You could listen to music, a podcast or even schedule in that daily exercise you’ve been avoiding.
Whatever you choose, starting the day on a high is a great way to get those endorphins flowing and to increase your productivity.
2. Make a to-do list
Three application deadlines, two interviews, and a dissertation proposal all in one week? I know the feeling.
If you’re the type of person that spends hours scrolling through your phone, not knowing where to begin with your workload and feeling overwhelmed by essay or application submissions, then creating a weekly plan of your goals and tasks can be a useful strategy to help manage your time more effectively.
You can try setting your jobs in order of priority, breaking up your work into smaller tasks, or scheduling out your goals for each day. Whichever method works best for you, setting yourself these clear and attainable goals not only gives your days structure and purpose, but also fills you with a huge sense of achievement as you tick off the points on your list.
3. Take regular breaks
Although spending the whole day sitting at your desk and staring at your screen might feel like the best way to use your time, this type of routine is a one-way road to dwindling your productivity and reducing the quality of your work. In fact, taking regular breaks throughout the day is proven to help spark creative ideas and to increase levels of focus, so don’t feel guilty scheduling them in.
Rather than using your breaks to get lost in TikTok or Instagram, take the time to move about and give your eyes a rest. A short walk outside to get some fresh air will quickly help to restore your focus and give you a new sense of motivation when tackling those deadlines.
4. Set clear working hours
Without the walk home from the library, it’s easy to let your workload take over your entire week. Nevertheless, allowing yourself the time to refresh and relax at the end of the day is super important for your work-life balance.
To avoid the temptation of checking your emails or finishing off a few tasks in the evening (or even the weekend), try setting yourself a clear cut off point for when the notebooks and laptop need to be put away. Having this time to recharge and to connect with friends and family can do more for your productivity and energy levels – not to mention your mental health – than you may realise.
5. Try and focus on the positives
When you’re facing job rejection or your essay results just aren’t quite what you had hoped for, focusing on the positives can be much easier said than done. Negative emotions are a completely natural part of life, but it’s important to prevent them from outweighing the good.
You may need a moment to process and vent your frustrations, however, during this time you should also remember to acknowledge your achievements. Perhaps you didn’t make the boundary for a 1st, but you scored four more marks than your previous assignment. Or maybe you didn’t land the job, but you made it through to the final interview stage. Focusing on these important achievements can be a huge boost of confidence and can also help to provide direction when thinking about the next steps that you could take to improve in the future.
Finally, if you’re struggling to deal with your workload, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Lecturers and University staff are always available to provide you with advice and guidance, and friends and family will be there to support and comfort you. It’s a stressful time but communicating with your support network will help to keep you motivated as the year goes on.