A Step Toward Productivity: How to Kick Apathy to the Curb
As the Spring semester is coming to a close, pressure is mounting to do well on finals and ensure all assignments turned in in a timely manner. It seems that the level of apathy is directly proportional to this pressure, and motivation inversely so. That being said, how do we get past this mental blockage that prevents us from being productive?
There are different methods and techniques that various people use in order to keep on track. Various authors, athletes, businessmen and women, and other professionals struggle with the same problem. A lack of motivation is universal and doesn’t dissipate with age or professionalism. These are a few of the ways I attempt to stay focused on the task at hand and not succumb to my own indifference.
1. Change of Scenery
Daily routines are a huge contributor to a monotonous spell, and they are easily and openly developed. They provide a sense of comfort and security throughout the day, but can cause a wearisome outlook. College students especially are notorious for studying in the same places at the same time in the same manner. I was guilty of it myself - I would never fail to find myself on the second floor of the library at Samford University and sit at the same open table beside the staircase at eight o’clock. I’d put my headphones in and bury my head in my books and notes or glare absentmindedly into my glowing laptop screen.
It is imperative to add variety to your daily schedule. At the very least, change the times you spend studying. Ideally, it would be most beneficial to alter your surroundings. Rather than spending time in the library for the ninth straight month, try studying in your dorm, a coffee shop off campus, on the quad, in the park, upside down in a tree - anywhere but the library.
2. Take a Shower
It sounds silly, but it works. Taking a shower gets you up and moving, but also some of the best ideas come in that time of solitude. When your best ideas or thoughts jump to the forefront of your mind, hopefully you’ll feel ambitious about accomplishing them, and will go out and at least start on them. Motivation can be related to appearance as well. “Dress for success” is cliché, but its meaning holds true. Another thing college students are known for is coming to class and walking around campus unkempt in the clothes slept in the night before. There is nothing wrong with that, except that we are more likely to be lazy when we feel lazy; lounging in leggings and warm-up pants, messy hair, and wrinkled shirts worn three days in a week doesn’t scream “drive and determination”.
I do want to stress that those habits in no way reflect anyone as a person, but the point I am making suggests that the excessive amount of comfort and dispassion in a recurring outfit can affect the mentality of any person.
3. Go Outside
It’s simple. Set aside time each day to get outside and just spend time with Mother Nature - she’s actually pretty easy to get along with. Outdoor beauty is great inspiration, not to mention that Vitamin D is great for health in general. I’ve found that nature has calmed my anxiety and weakened some of my symptoms of depressive symptoms. To me, it’s difficult to be upset, stressed, or unmotivated while outside. Even if it’s raining outside, you can open a window or sit under a terrace. A majority of my novel has been written outside at the pavilion at my apartment complex. I am so much more productive outside than indoors. Fresh air never fails!
“A body at rest stays at rest. A body in motion stays in motion.” – Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion.
An active body leads to an active mind. Pump some iron, run, play basketball, soccer, or any sport. Just be active. Relieve the stress that’s pent up inside and then stay active when you finish by studying, doing homework, or doing something you’re passionate about. One of my favorite activities is going to the Big Dam Bridge in Little Rock, Arkansas and completely walking from one end to the other and back. Right after, I go home and begin writing, researching, or reading.
5. Take a Break From What You’re Trying to Do
Whether you’re staring at textbooks, agonizing over unfinished projects, hopelessly looking at blank pages, or in the midst of not finishing anything else, take a small break. Do something that makes you happy, even if just for a little bit. Stop the ceaseless stress and listen to music. Draw. Play video games. Keep it limited, not too much to dread returning to your activity or assignment, but enough that you will return happy and refreshed.
6. Make Yourself Do It
Sometimes all you need is to just sit down and make yourself finish a project. Shut off the music, eliminate distractions, and turn up your mental horsepower. This is the most difficult because you’re simply fighting your lack of motivation alone, head-on. It can be done with certain people. This is more of a last-ditch effort than the others, but it could be the first option in the right scenario. Like a research paper being due the next day and it’s already midnight. There wouldn’t be time for the other methods.
Everyone will encounter some sort of apathy towards any given project, goal, or assignment, even if the goal is deeply rooted in passion. My biggest struggle in writing is sitting down and forcing myself to create words. Sometimes all it takes is you telling yourself that it will get done, and it does. Other times you have to break out of your comfort zone or wander outside. No matter what, indifference is only temporary, and any of the above methods can lead you out of it faster. Happy finals!