As we enter the final two weeks of class, my brain has more or less turned to mush. For the next two weeks, I have two final papers to complete, three exams, and a whole bunch of other things to do. This is all before studying for finals, and definitely before the wonderful amazing summer break that pretty much needs to happen immediately. I came to the realization that I had hit a brick wall in my motivation when I reveled in the fact that it was 75 degrees and sunny in Cleveland yesterday by doing a grand total of absolutely no homework. Yeah. Productive weekend, you might say.
It's a fair expectation that everyone will suffer from a little bit of burnout eventually. Students at CWRU are notorious for being awesomely overinvolved, often to the point of sleepless nights and jam-packed days. For many of us, this kind of scheduling offers an adrenaline rush that can only come with doing things you like, doing them well, and doing them with great people. Every now and again, we even like the things that drive us nuts (super difficult classes or extracurriculars that ask more than we expected, etc.) because getting through them proves to us that we can survive and come out better for it.
Eventually, though, there comes a point when intrinsic motivation runs out. You know you need to complete X, Y, and Z because you want the good grade, but the study schedule you stuck to for the first couple months of the semester has fallen through and you've resorted to doing only the work that needs to be done tomorrow. This is a slump I am all too familiar with. I haven't quite figured out how to master the slump yet. But a few things do keep me on track.
The first is reminding myself why I'm doing the things I'm doing. If it's schoolwork, I remind myself that I really want to get into a Senior Year Professional Studies program and finish a Master's in five years. It's a big dream, and it keeps me pushing even when I don't think I have it left in me to push.
The second is reevaluating the extra stuff. I love my extracurriculars. Nine days out of ten they keep me from going crazy. They give me something besides papers to write, info to burn into my brain, and projects to complete. I appreciate them because they're fun; let me do things purely for the sake of doing them. At the same time, every now and then I get in over my head. When I take on too many leadership roles, I have to step back and ask myself why I'm doing each activity. If something has lost its luster for me, I know I have to cut it out. It can be hard when it means explaining to friends or giving up hobbies I used to love, but there comes a time to focus on what's important for the long term.
Finally, I really have come to appreciate relying on friends for accountability. It's a two-way street: I remind them to get working on their poster, they remind me that I have a paper due in week. I let them know that the notes are up for a class, and they give me times they're available for studying together. This has gotten better with time as I know more people in my classes and I build friendships that help us both keep school in mind.
It can be tough to find motivation, especially when you know that the next week or two is all that's standing between you and a few months of freedom. Hopefully, though, it will be enough to remind yourself why you're here, and you will be able to look back with pride on the work you did, even when it was tough.