Written by: Jahnavi Roy
In my mind, a rut can happen in two ways – either by procrastinating on the couch and binge-watching mindless YouTube videos for days, or running around like a headless chicken trying to get your life together. This gruelling process is especially horrible during finals period.
Regardless, we’ve all been there: stuck in our own patterns and habits with every intention to change but finding it so difficult to do so.
In fact, as I’ve been stuck in that rut so many times, I now have a routine to get myself out of it. And as the (self-proclaimed) master of procrastination and laziness myself, here are just a few tips to help you get yourself together, for finals or life in general.
STAGE 1: GETTING STARTED
Step 1a. 5-min tasks
To get out of that rut, you need to start small. Put your clothes in the washing machine, clean the junk and gunk off your floor, tidy your bed and study table, and respond to that pending email. Try to see how many 5-min tasks you can fit in within 20-30 min and accomplish it. It’s not a lot, but it’s usually the hardest to do.
Step 1b. Get Yo Body Movin’
Any means to boost the blood flow to your brain and oxygen into your lungs is the way to go. That means going for a jog or a walk or some in-room cardio. It’s a well-known fact that exercise releases endorphins which can reduce your perception of pain in your brain, giving you the same positive feelings that you would get from morphine.
Step 1c. Take a Cool Shower
Take a shower. The cold water might just shock you into studying and it makes you feel less sleepy.
Step 1d. Reinvigorate and Motivate
Now onto the final part of stage one, grab some caffeine and blast some of your favourite music. Take a breath and sit for five minutes before we get to the harder parts.
STAGE 2: REFLECT
It’s time to get into the nitty gritty of why you fell into the rut in the first place.
Step 2a. Question Yourself
Are you overwhelmed? Or too tired to function? Not motivated at all? The main reason for my procrastination is because I am overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work that needs to be done. Too much work makes me want to get started on it later and later. A lot of times, work piles up due to our tendency to overcommit and our inability to say “no”. If you’re struggling to finish deadlines and are lagging further and further behind, despite constantly working, this may also be the case why.
Step back, and take a look at the work that’s laid out for you, do you really need to do everything?
Step 2b. Take a look at yourself
Look at yourself and what you’re doing. Are you doing the things or in roles that make you happy? Or as the wise Marie Kondo would say, Spark Joy? It’s time to evaluate not just how much you’re doing, but why you’re doing it.
It’s never too late to change aspects of your life, especially in university, when we’re all really trying to figure stuff out. Trust me, I have no idea what I want to do with my life either.
Step 2c. Look at those around you
Time is a valuable thing, be careful to not just what, but whom you give it away to.
Are you with the people who make you happy, or is there someone in your life spreading toxicity and bringing you down? The people in your life are one of the biggest influences on you, so think carefully about the ones you surround yourself with. They might be responsible for your lack of motivation. Come on, the university is already crazy stressful, you don’t need extra negativity in your life.
Step 2d. Evaluate Your Resources
Lastly, you need to make sure you’re making full use of all your resources, professors, tutors and peer tutoring. Remember, you’re not running this rat race alone, take full advantage of all the help you can get, NTU’s got your back here.
Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the thought of what your life should be and what you’re not doing to achieve it, but remember to take a deep breath, relax and chill. Even if you don’t know what to do with your life, take it a step at a time and figure out what you want to do tomorrow.
STAGE 3: WHAT CAN I DO NOW?
Take out your planner and schedule away!
It is now time to look at your schedule and the time you have. Make the most of it, plan everything, and space things out. Perhaps you might want to wake up ten minutes earlier to do Yoga? And while that might seem like a stretch (pun intended), it’s very doable if you plan ahead. Schedule in time for new experiences, new skills, and all the fun things you want to do.
Make sure you have time to just lepak. It’s important to take a break once in a while to avoid being cognitively overloaded. A useful rule is to take a 15-minute break every 45-minutes of uninterrupted work.
I hope these tips will be beneficial in helping you to structure your life better! And even if you already have your life together (you deserve a pat on the back!), a little re-evaluation to make sure you’re heading towards the right direction never hurts.
With only a week left before finals, NTUSU would like to wish everyone all the best for the upcoming examinations!