Seasonal Study Slump

Photo of students notebooks and folders. Provided by Jillian Lewis.
Photo of students notebooks and folders. Provided by Jillian Lewis.

December and January are exciting months full of different holiday celebrations and traditions. Along with the busyness of the holiday season comes the mid-year school slump. Students are fighting to stay productive, eager to find the academic motivation they need to keep pushing through the year. Even though the third quarter of the school year can be the hardest, there are several ways to make the most of it and come out on the other side successful and accomplished. 

Seniors have had their fair share of experience with the third quarter slump, and some of them have learned valuable lessons along the way about how to stay successful and productive. Senior Emmy Mutima offers a perspective on a large workload: “I would say that motivation isn’t really the thing to look for. There have been a lot of times where I do things simply because I know I have to and I want my diploma. I would encourage students to push themselves and focus on where the work is going to get them instead of focusing on the dread of the current challenge.” 

Thankfully, when looking for the motivation needed to accomplish all the third quarter to-do’s, there are methods that are reliable and ready to use. Five productivity habits that have been tested and proven to work: 

  1. Unplug from social media: It is no secret that many teenagers struggle with having screen times that far exceed the amount of time spent on homework and studying. Even taking a social media detox for just one day could open up a significant amount of time to accomplish goals and check items off the extensive to-do lists.  “Deleting TikTok has made such a difference for me. It sounds really stupid and old fashioned, but every time I redownload TikTok, I find myself on it for hours on end until I just want to go to sleep,” says senior Mimi Forrester. 
  2. Have a study buddy: Having a friendship where both people are like-minded in their productivity goals can help to inspire and push each other to be the best version of themselves. Sometimes, just having someone to be with during the long, sometimes strenuous, hours of studying can make it a much more enjoyable and positive experience. 
  3. Take breaks: Regardless of how many hours of work there is to be done, it can be counterproductive to attempt to sit down for several hours straight and get it all done in one try. Taking scheduled breaks for a mental detox can be extremely beneficial. “I like sectioning out my time. For example, I will give myself 20-30 minutes to focus on work, and then 5-10 minutes of a break as a reward,” says senior Grayson Carnall. Student Council Association President, Lizzy Brubaker, also uses this method to help herself stay productive. “I like to take periodic breaks when I study to give my brain a rest. For example, I’ll pause my studying to cook something or read a book. I find that this is beneficial in the end because it keeps my brain awake and allows me to concentrate more on my studies when I get back to them,” Brubaker explains. 
  4. Ambience is key: Everyone has unique preferences on what places and conditions in which they feel comfortable and motivated to work. Whether it’s at the kitchen table, in the local library, or at a friend’s house, it is important to recognize where there are the least amount of distractions. Some people find it helpful to have certain volume levels or lighting to get school work done. Congress Debate competitor and SCA Vice President Lily McBride states, “I love listening to classical music while I study or work on projects. It helps me stay off my phone, plus it’s soothing and helps me focus!”
  5. Have perspective: Even when it is hard to find the motivation to get things done, it is important to remember the ultimate goal and destination. Whether that is learning life skills that will be beneficial in the workforce, or preparing for college in the following years, staying focused is critical. Senior Jacob Ridderhoff offers, “Always think about how your current actions will affect your future. Sometimes, you have to work hard now in order to enjoy life later.”

The third quarter slump can be tough, but the reward of seeing all the hard work pay off makes every minute of studying worth it. Carnall reminds students, “The pain of failing will never hurt as much as the pain of regret. If you want something, try for it, and keep trying no matter what.”

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