Overcoming the dreaded mid-semester slump

A Tech student diligently studies in the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons to stay on track with her schedule. Finding a study spot on campus can help get you settled into a routine. // Photo by Kirsten Reynolds Student Publications

As assignments start to pile up and deadlines inch closer, many students find themselves stuck in what is colloquially known as the mid-semester slump. 

Generally between the end of winter break and the start of spring break, students are flooded by waves of exhaustion and procrastination as they navigate the challenges of a new semester with a newfound lack of motivation.

It can be difficult to overcome as a busy Tech student, but it is possible. 

Here are some tips that can help you avoid the dreaded mid-semester slump.

Make a Plan of Action

It’s harder to forget about completing an assignment or attending a lecture if you’ve written it down. 

Creating a weekly, or even daily, plan and breaking up the tasks to be done in chunks makes it easier to stay on track and avoid procrastination.

This can be done in the form of a daily to-do list, weekly planner, digital reminders, personal white board or anything that will help you keep track of everything that you must accomplish. Include deadlines for assignments, dates for upcoming midterms,  meeting hours and any other important events. The main goal is to make it so that you are not overwhelming yourself by pushing all your assignments off until the last minute.

Follow your plan to the best of your ability, and do not be discouraged if you did not finish everything you had in mind. 

You can always rearrange your plan to make it best fit your schedule. Just make sure you are meeting hard deadlines for homework and projects.

Go to Class

For those of us with 8 a.m. classes on chilly mornings where all we want to do is curl up in our beds and get just “five more minutes of sleep,” skipping class can be quite appealing. However, one thing can lead to another, and skipping one class can often lead to falling behind on the material being covered. 

Try to attend class in-person whenever you can by getting enough sleep the night before, setting an alarm for early lectures and keeping yourself fueled with either a filling breakfast or your favorite caffeinated drink.

Use a Reward System

Sometimes the satisfaction of knowing that you learned something new or finished an assignment isn’t always enough to keep you going. Therefore, rewarding yourself every time you accomplish a task serves as motivation and provides incentives for remaining focused.

It can be as simple as taking a break to watch an episode of your favorite show after studying for an upcoming test, having a piece of candy after completing your math homework or hanging out with friends at the end of a long day. 

It’s especially important to emphasize taking breaks when in a mid-semester slump because it is common for students to become overworked and overwhelmed. Taking even a couple minutes for yourself can make all the difference.

Stay Organized

With all the different classes, clubs and research going on in your daily life, organization is crucial to keeping up with the various documents, files and information needed for each activity. 

Establish a designated location for each individual class or club where you can keep all the materials for that commitment in one place. They can be folders on your computer, or even actual folders that you keep in your backpack. You may also want to color-code these folders to make it easier to distinguish between them. Having a clean workspace and living space is also key to staying organized and creating a better environment for yourself to live, work and relax in. Consider taking some time out of your weekend to ensure that your space is tidy and ready for the upcoming week.

Take Care of Yourself

How will you be the best version of yourself academically if you’re not physically and mentally fit? 

Eat well, drink enough water, aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day and try to sleep at least seven hours a day. 

This is also the time of year when many students begin to get sick as the weather changes, so make sure you’re following standard practices like washing your hands and covering up when you cough or sneeze.

Additionally, remember to take care of your mental health by taking time to de-stress and seeking help when you need it. 

Tech’s Center for Mental Health Care & Resources has several resources open to Tech students in need of assistance, including CARE which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for students needing someone to talk to. They can be found at mentalhealth.gatech.edu.

All in all, we’ve all been there. Things pile up, obligations come to ask our time and it can be stressful, but what’s important is how we handle it. 

By staying focused and managing what we can,  even with small changes over time, we can ease our workload as we continue on into the new year.