Fall semester is here, and if you’re anything like me, you’re struggling to find the motivation to survive your first week of classes.
Transitioning from a breezy summer break to massive amounts of school work is a challenge that plagues college students everywhere. In the midst of printing your syllabi, emailing professors and finalizing your schedule, you may find yourself wanting to stay in bed for the rest of eternity. Believe me, you’re not alone.
School is wonderful but equally as stressful, and I’m not trying to spend the majority of my junior year (especially the beginning) hanging out in procrastination city. The first week is always the hardest when it comes to adjusting, and already I’m letting piles of laundry form on the floor. Although regaining your focus can be difficult, I have some tips for students who, like me, are tackling the desire to fall apart before the semester even begins. Here are six ways to start the year off right.
1. Call Your Friends
Having conversations with good friends can help in your fight to stay on track. Over the summer, I called one of my best friends at least once a week, specifically when I was feeling drained and unprepared to start regularly attending school again. You’re lucky if you have people in your life who can ground you, and essentially bring you back down to Earth.
If you’re feeling lost, reach out to the people who support you and express your concerns. Just having somebody listen to your vent session(s) can increase your desire to move on and get shit done, and they’re more than likely sharing your back-to-school blues as well. My friends encourage me and want me to succeed, so I never hesitate to call them when I need reassurance. Sometimes you just need to be reminded of your importance, intelligence and ability to overcome any obstacle.
2. Make Lists
Even if you don’t have much planned for the day, crossing things off of a list allows you to feel (even somewhat) accomplished. During the summer months, when I felt more like a potato than a person (you know exactly what I mean), I made lists, and even wrote down things I knew I was going to do. For example, one day I listed, “Eat cereal, shower and brush your teeth.” I crossed them all off and felt damn good about it.
I would advise you not make lists of things you know you won’t be able to do in the time you wish to do them—you can’t build a house in one day all by yourself. In addition to listing your short-term goals, it’s beneficial to track how much money you’ve spent during the summer, and where your money will go during your semester at school. Books are expensive, as is food and other school essentials. Keeping lists will help you organize your thoughts, goals and hard-earned dollar bills.
3. Take Walks
Seems obvious (and maybe boring), but set your phone down and walk around outside. Whether you live on campus, commute from home or from an apartment, you shouldn’t have to sit in a work environment all day and night, thinking about everything you have to do. You absolutely deserve time to relax, and without the constant need to check your Twitter and Instagram for updates from Beyoncé.
Having time to yourself is important, so use it wisely. Clearing your head can help you regain your focus, which is necessary when busy schedules collide and try to swallow you whole.
4. Listen to Music
Motivational music is key when it comes to doing work and taking yourself seriously. Make a playlist for easy access to a compilation of inspiring songs. Music enhances my creative energy. My favorite musicians, bands and artists like “Halsey,” and “Twenty One Pilots,” bring me to a free and peaceful place. I remember: I’m pursuing my passions, I’m in school for a reason and I know I want to create powerful art in my own unique way.
In relation to relaxing, music can ease your anxiety and stress. Personally, I’m easily distracted. A comfortable work environment is imperative, and sometimes I need background noise to focus on the task(s) at hand. Too much quiet can throw me off as I look for something else to do.
5. Do a Little Bit at a Time
Dive in, but don’t expect too much of yourself. Even if you only end up doing one thing a day, start early and you’ll be okay. If you’re packing up your things to move back into your dorm room, avoid doing everything the day before.
When dealing with homework assignments, take baby steps—chip away at them little by little to avoid feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. You’re just now getting back into the swing of things by setting alarms and updating your new planner, so don’t expect everything to fall into place all at once.
Keep in mind, it may take a few days to know where you’re going, who you’re taking classes with and who lives in your hall (if you’re a resident student). Truthfully, it’s okay to not know what’s going on—everyone else is feeling the same way, and the confusion won’t last forever.
6. Check Your Email
Ah, checking your email will always remind you—you’re a student who has a lot of work to do. Email wasn’t a priority for me until my very first semester. Then, I realized just how important reading each one is, and carefully.
My professors reach out to me constantly, as do students who keep me updated on certain club activities and upcoming events on campus. No one wants to read emails during summer break, but trust me: Becoming aware of what’s been sent your way will keep you informed. You won’t enter fall semester completely clueless, which is a huge plus. Also, you can get notifications sent to your phone each time a new email is sent, like reading a text message, making checking your email that much easier.
I know the unfortunate disadvantages to feeling sluggish, but there are small things you can do each day to bring the hardworking student inside of you back to life. Make sure you’re checking your email, not waiting until the very last minute to do anything and everything, and give yourself time to breathe. College isn’t easy, but everything you go through will prepare you for life beyond school, as well as landing the job of your dreams.