Dear Flyby, How Do I Avoid Burnout?

By Tina Chen

Monday brings back Flyby’s weekly advice column! But that’s not the only thing coming around this week…Word around the block is that midterm season is upon us. Soon, midterms will be here to stay, whether you have one exam every week of October or you have “midterms” that spill into finals week. They make the Sunday Scaries worse than usual, break your sleep schedule, and perhaps even make you question why you even chose your concentration in the first place. That said, we have some advice for you to avoid burning out while still being an academic weapon.

Q: How do I stay productive when studying for my midterms?

A: The most important bit of wisdom we can share is: plan, plan, plan. Midterms hit harder when you forget they’re coming. Get a physical calendar (yes, the old-fashioned ones with the little pictures of cats or nature scenes) and plan out your midterm season. You want to know you have two midterms back-to-back one week before that week actually comes around. Also, you can plan your study schedule and pretend you're *the main character* if you need motivation to actually start studying.

But, when planning, it’s also important to incorporate breaks into your schedule! Midterm season doesn’t mean you can’t take breaks; you just have to be strategic and disciplined when taking them. Spending 12 hours at Lamont will probably turn you into a Lamonster rather than help you study productively. Plan out blocks where you don’t have to study so you can give your brain a well-deserved rest. Go watch Netflix, talk to George (the free advice guy in Harvard Square), or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can even take the T into Boston. :)

And of course, remember to be kind to yourself. Harvard students tend to be overachievers, but remember: no pset or midterm is worth pulling multiple all-nighters, or even one all-nighter. Grades will work themselves out, and those three hours of sleep you lost every day for a week over one exam aren’t worth it. You’re human, and you won’t just magically get superpowers because it’s midterm season.

Hopefully, these tips will help you have a successful final season, but remember the key to avoiding burnout has to do with the boundaries you set for yourself. Also, remember ~winter break~ is just around the corner!


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