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Student Blog: Back to School Burnout

How I've found ways to combat classwork burnout this semester!

Student Blog: Back to School Burnout  Image
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How can someone be burnt out a month into the semester? This seems to be the question that I subconsciously set out to answer as my new year’s resolution.

For myself and many of my peers, it seems that the mid-semester burnout hits earlier and earlier with every passing year. This year it happened to hit right around the time I was reading my first syllabus; it was like I was already exhausted from the mental image of the semester ahead of me.

To be fair, this has been a busier semester than most; I volunteered at Sundance Film Festival for two weeks in January, and I’m taking five classes rather than the four I would normally do. This is not made any easier by the fact that all five courses are online, forcing me to employ all the self-discipline I possess to get my work done each week. Add work and outside commitments to the load, and safe to say I feel like a hamster running around on a wheel.

I am genuinely interested in a couple of my classes; mainly my American Cinema class, which covers the history of American Cinema. I’ve recently been exploring my love of mid-20th century movie-musicals, and this class provides me with a productive outlet to do so. I’m also fascinated by my Technical Theatre class, which is the first Theatre class I’ve enrolled in since taking Theatre as my second minor. As someone who works in a performing arts center, it’s exciting to finally understand the things that I see daily  and the jobs of those whom I regularly interact with. It seems silly that I hadn’t fully comprehended these things before, but the inner workings of a theatre are so complex that I never would have figured out where to begin without the structure of a class.

But while I am incredibly interested in these topics, and could spend hours reading about them, they are not my only obligations. As such, I can’t spend extra time on them without feeling the impending due dates for my other classes creeping up on me. I finish my work for the week only to turn around and begin the next week’s work the same day. I return to my hamster wheel metaphor once more in hopes that the image I am attempting to conjure is coming across.

Student Blog: Back to School Burnout  Image
Treating myself to a coffee study date!

One thing that I have learned from the mental battle to find motivation has been that I’m most productive when I allow myself to indulge in fun and exciting things, too. I like to start my mornings off with a cup of coffee, with some time outside reading, and with a bit of time writing. All of these practices have benefitted me; I don’t feel antsy from being trapped inside, I don’t feel a buildup of creative energy that I instead have to spend on coursework, and the coffee gives me that little boost of energy to get started on my work. I’ve also started a TV show that has spent years on my watchlist and have been ending my nights with a few episodes as a reward. I put on records while I work, which allows me to pretend that my apartment is a coffee shop (without spending eight dollars on a latte) and forces me to get up and move every couple of minutes when it’s time to flip the record.

This isn’t to say that these practices are for everyone, sometimes even doing these things doesn’t even provide me with the motivation I need to sit in front of my computer all day, but the general takeaway is one that I consider to be very valuable: you can’t force yourself to do the boring stuff if you starve yourself of the fun stuff. It’s ok to take a “do nothing day” here and there, and it’s ok to venture out to a coffee shop once-in-a-while for a little treat if that’s what it takes to get that paper turned in.


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