Take caution, avoid burnout

By Tyson Nafus Columnist

Burnout (noun): that morning you wake up to find a laundry list of tasks, read them over two or three times, then throw the list away and curl up in bed, forgoing starting the day. If this is you, you’re probably not reading this column, because you’re comatose in your room, possibly watching reruns of “Family Guy” or conquering the latest Facebook game. My thoughts are with you, because I’ve been there, too. For the rest of the population not drowning in takeout food bought with near-dry credit cards, I have a couple of suggestions on how to avoid the “b”-word.

First, forget lists. Tasks put all onto one plate and staring up at you, needling away at your conscience with how much time you’ve spent procrastinating this semester, will intimidate anyone. Even CEOs have personal assistants that manage their day one appointment at a time. Take the executive officer approach: bottleneck your busy. Three papers, an exam and two major projects scribbled in bold-faced panic letters will not motivate you to tackle any part of the tasks. It’d be like trying to thin out your Netflix cue by opening seven movies at once and watching them simultaneously. What would you gain from that chaotic mess? Do one thing, do it until done or tired, then move on to the next. Don’t let the pressure kill your motivation.

Secondly, don’t forget your motivation. Why are you doing all this work to begin with? Once you have the answer to that question set in your mind, it’ll be much easier to convince yourself to read pages upon pages of dry scholarly articles trying to find the perfect source to support your claim that popular culture is the new standard for intellectual metaphors. (Just keep digging — you could find it.) If you’re driven to succeed for yourself, not because someone browbeat you into college or suggested that a degree was ‘the next step,’ you’ll find powering through those lengthy textbooks a much easier journey.

Finally, relax occasionally. Flyers for an entire night dedicated to relaxation are popping up all over campus (free massages? Count me in). But remember, it doesn’t have to be a special occasion or an all-night event just to take a moment and collect yourself away from books. Take five, go outside and make a snow angel, do something outside the study area. If your quarters start to feel like a cell where you have been sentenced to learn, take a step away from it and remind yourself that it’s just temporary. Also, make sure those breaks stay as temporary as possible, or else the laundry list will get longer.

Burnout is a terrible thing. I’ve suffered from it in the past, and the threat of relapsing into this fugue state looms over me at this semester’s end. Take to heart the fact that you’re not alone in this pressure, and please, please, please don’t make the mistake of discovering a new television series in the final weeks of the semester. It’s an academic deathblow — trust me.


Tyson Nafus is a senior with a major in sociology and can be emailed at [email protected].