I spent two weeks trying to get out of a rut as a Lancs student: Here’s my advice

Please, please make sure that you’re getting enough sleep

Coming back to uni after the Easter holidays meant returning to the realities of exam season — aka days of procrastination and hourly trips to Spar. It didn’t take long to realise that being away from the routine of university had robbed me of all motivation, and I found myself stuck in a complete rut.

We’ve all been there, and sometimes it can feel like there’s no way to drag yourself out of bed and to the library for a fully productive day. So, I spent a few weeks doing everything I could to pull myself out of a rut and back into the life of a student with endless deadlines to face. Here’s some advice if you find yourself in the same situation.

Figure out what you’re already doing — and stop doing it

The hardest part of this process was letting go of all of the things that everyone says work, but didn’t work for me. I used to try and plan every second of my day down to when I would eat and sleep, but all this succeeded in doing was making me feel like I had done nothing all day if I didn’t do everything exactly according to my plan.

Chances are, if you’re currently trying and failing to get out of a rut, all you need to do is let go of everything the Internet has told you, and start trying some different methods.

Do an hour of work on your rest day

Rest days mean a break from exam woes so you can get rid of tiredness. However, not doing anything on your rest day can lead to a whole weekend of rest, and before you know it, it’s been five days and you’re once again stuck in a rut. Just popping to C-floor in the library and getting an hour of work done on your rest day ensures that you’re ready to start work properly again tomorrow.

Journal positively

Most of us have heard about the mystical powers of journaling, but sometimes the last thing you want to do at the end of the day is make a record of the tasks you failed to complete. Instead, try to focus on everything you did complete to make sure that the experience is completely positive — even if it’s just “made a healthy meal instead of spending more money in Greggs”. This way, you’ll be less stressed the next day and more motivated to carry on completing your goals.

Pick one main goal for the day (that won’t take more than two hours)

Long to-do lists are the bane of every uni student’s existence, and during exam season they’re definitely getting longer. But make sure to pick one goal to be your top priority, which won’t take you any longer than two hours — get this task done first, so even if you start to lose motivation at least you’ve gotten one big priority out of the way. You could even study on the Bonnington Steps, or Williamson Park, so your work feels less of a chore.

Work out in the morning

Whether it’s a ten-minute workout, a trip to the Sports Centre, or a quick YouTube pilates session, working out as soon as you wake up makes you feel so much more productive for the day. I used to be tired every morning, but when I started working out, the constant yawning and dreading my 9ams suddenly ended.

Make a to-do list over a full schedule

To-do lists are great for figuring out what your priorities are every day, but try to avoid scheduling every second of your day. All these schedules do is make you feel guilty if you don’t get every done. Try just making a overall to-do list, and spend a few minutes each morning deciding which tasks you want to prioritise that day.

Make a definitive sleep schedule

Some days will be more productive than others, but no matter how much you’ve done, make sure to go to bed at the same time every night. While it’s tempting to pull an all-nighter in the library when you don’t get all of your work done, it’s better to make sure you’re going to bed the same time every night. You’ll thank yourself in the long term when it becomes easier to wake up in the morning, making you even more productive in the day.

Make sure you’re still spending time on productive hobbies

Whether it’s baking and meal prepping for the week, sitting with a Costa in Alex Square, or finishing that book that’s been stuck on your TBR for months, make sure that you’re still doing the things you love.

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