What to Do When You're Simply Burning Out: Part 3
The end of the term is approaching. I know, prime time for being exhausted, stressed, and over it. I'm one 10-week quarter away from summer, and I'm at the point where I can't imagine doing this all over again after spring break. This is the time of the term where everyone seems to be incredibly burned out, and hopefully my advice in previous articles has been able to help in keeping up the motivation to stick things out.
This week, a lot of friends and classmates told me that with all of the assignments, exams, and performances coming up, they were having a hard time staying focused and motivated. Jokingly, a few mentioned dropping the drama major and switching to something easier, but I know that we are all just trying to manage our time and keep our sanity. Many students in different majors would probably laugh at the concept of "switching to a major easier that drama," but as I explained in "A Different Type of Stressed Out," this program is difficult and emotionally draining in its own way.
Last Monday, my acting teacher asked me why I was my own worst critic when it came to my acting choices. It was 8am. I hadn't had coffee yet, and it was a lot. Tell me that my major isn't at least a little nuts.
However, this past week's chaos has brought up a new piece of advice to my fellow students who seem to be losing steam. It may seem like a lot to ask, especially for anyone approaching midterms or finals, but hear me out.
Pour Yourself Into Your Work 1000%
Don't laugh, it works.
Last week, I was stuck staring at a 3-page scene with the blankest expression, trying to find the motivation to highlight, memorize, annotate, and block this entire thing. I thought, remember when this used to be fun? Immediately, I realized how quickly I had to snap out of that mindset if I thought I could even be the least bit productive. Instead of focusing on the fact that this seemed more like a chore nowadays, I decided to set my timer for 30 minutes, turn my phone on Do Not Disturb, and work until I heard the timer beep. My only focus was to get it done, and when the timer went off, I found myself so focused that I just reset it and kept working for another 30 minutes. In that time, I put some of my best work in.
I now realized that in all of this time that I had been complaining, I hadn't actually been putting in the work I needed to in order to expect visible results. Imagine what I could accomplish if took the work ethic of those 60 minutes and applied it to everything that I felt wasn't fulfilling anymore.
The result of that hour surprised me. Not only had I gotten through so much more material than I originally intended, I finally saw the results from my effort in a way that felt like the progress I'd been lacking. That's the thing about being burned out: most of the time, you can always pour a bit more into whatever you're doing. What if that effort is what pushes you to a breakthrough? Isn't that worth the little extra work you have to put into something that may not seem like a ton of fun? I realized I have so much more left in me than I gave myself credit for. I wasn't burned out, just in a slump caused by my own mindset.
If you're feeling burned out, what is there to lose? What's the worst that happens, you realize that you are truly over it?
Take the leap, make the decision to just give it your all, I think that the result may surprise you, too.