5 tips to stay motivated

How to make the most out of your day

Emy Wood

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Many aspire to achieve productivity, but few actually follow through. With Thanksgiving break looming close and the chill of fall setting in, finding motivation to finish homework or even attend class wears thin. Avoid the autumn slump by taking the following five tips to heart.

1. Plan ahead and create to-do lists.

Are you forgetting meetings and turning papers in late? Dig through your desk and find the planner Union handed out at registration. A planner keeps you organized so you don’t show up to class unprepared, and it can prevent you from overbooking an already full schedule.

“At the beginning of every week I sit down and look at what I have to get done this week and section off blocks of time to study,” said Amanda Berg, senior biology major.

If carrying around a paper planner isn’t your style, try downloading an app like Any.do, My Study Life or Schedule Planner. “Literally, I have a list for everything,” said Aubraelle Porter, freshman business major.

2. Take breaks.

It may be tempting to sit in the library for hours on end in a marathon homework session, but research shows that breaks improve attention.

Taking a 5 to 10 minute break every 60 to 90 minutes can refocus and clear your mind. Try going for a short walk, listening to music or reading a fun novel (but stay off the Internet if possible).

“I set up a reward system for myself,” said Berg. “If I finish this assignment I can go outside for a 20 minute walk or run, or for every hour I study I earn 15 minutes of pleasure reading time.”

Are you finding it difficult to wait until a project is finished? Breaking in the middle of a complex task can actually make it easier to jump back in and get a fresh look at what you’ve already accomplished.

3. Get rid of distractions.

“Staying focused is a challenge,” said Porter. “But I’m competitive so I like to finish stuff first and correctly.”

To follow Porter’s lead, work on decreasing the time you spend scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other possible online distractions. Download StayFocusd (Chrome), LeechBlock (Firefox) or WasteNoTime (Chrome and Safari) to keep track of where you spend the most time online. Plus, you can set time quotas to keep your social media use to a healthy limit.

If your cell phone is the leading distraction, put it on silent in a place where you won’t be tempted to check for texts every five minutes. And, as tempting as it may be, don’t linger in Cooper’s Corner buying yet another F’real milkshake.

Finding an ideal study spot can help keep distractions to a minimum. “Coffee shops are probably my favorite place to go because being around other people studying and being productive motivates me to be just as productive,” said Berg.

4. Don’t become overworked.

“Have time to breathe,” advised Daniel Ikpeama, sophomore general studies major.“Make sure you don’t have your schedule too full.”

While cramming every second with homework, work, study time and internships may seem like the ideal way to get the most out of your college years, it can wind up leaving you burnt out and unmotivated before the semester ends.  Saying “no” may seem difficult now, but your body and your mind will thank you for it in the long run.

5. Take care of yourself.

Adequate sleep, good nutrition and regular exercise are three fundamentals for keeping your body healthy and strong. Unfortunately, as the semester rolls on, these priorities often get replaced with late nights, unhealthy snacks and skipped workouts.

The effects of sleep deprivation have been drilled into our minds since freshman orientation, but the advice still gets ignored. Consider this: sleep boosts your concentration, attention, decision-making skills, creativity, social skills and health while decreasing mood fluctuations, stress, anger and impulsiveness. Sounds like a good deal to me.

If finding seven or eight hours of optimal snooze time isn’t possible, try taking a nap during the day. Napping helps improve concentration and boosts your mood. Limit your nap to 30 minutes to avoid troubles falling asleep at night.

With these tips, avoid the procrastination bug and finish this semester strong. Stay motivated, Union.

Emy is a sophomore studying communication.