10 Tips to Beat the Mid-Semester Blues & Stay Motivated

Don’t let mid-semeseter burnout stop you from achieving your goals. Get back on track with these tips.

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College student

So we’re about halfway done with the semester – congratulations on making it this far!

Surely you’ve been working hard, but as mid-semester rolls around, it can be difficult to find the motivation to continue to get things done.

We all have those lazy days when we feel apathetic, uninspired, and not in the mood for doing anything. Whether it’s due to lack of energy, loss of interest, or fluctuations in mood, staying on task can be challenging at times and lack of motivation can be a real hindrance when trying to accomplish things on a tight college schedule.

Check out these tips below to help you stay motivated, chip away at that never-ending to-do list, and power through the rest of the semester:

Set Small Goals

Goal setting

Imagine yourself where you want to be and start taking small initiatives to work up to a larger goal. Success is often measured by the accomplishment of many small milestones, not the overall final goal, so focus on progress to keep motivation from dwindling.

Take things one step at a time – you only have to get through one day, one exam, one workout, one project.

Breaking down large efforts into smaller tasks can help things seem less daunting and more manageable.

Then, be sure to reward yourself (more below) for accomplishing small goals and celebrate every milestone you reach.

Reward Yourself

Woman shopping online

One of the defining characteristics of the mid-semester blues is feeling overworked, with seemingly no end in sight.

In order to alleviate this listlessness, try and set up little rewards for every goal that you accomplish, proportionate to the importance of the task itself.

Finish reading those two chapters in your Intro to Macroeconomics textbook? Get thee to a bakery and indulge in that scone you were eying this morning. Finally complete that twenty page term paper on 19th century Chinese politics and government? Buy that dress on Revolve that has been sitting in your cart for who knows how long.

Of course, I certainly don’t advocate doing this for everything or doing it all the time. Setting up a reward system can backfire pretty quickly when it comes to intrinsic motivation. (Plus, whose wallet can really afford it?)

However, for those tasks that you need an extra push to accomplish, rewarding yourself with some shopping, or just the latest episode of Bridgerton won’t hurt.

Organize Your Time


Organization is key for successfully completing any task, no matter how big or small, so set some time aside to plan out the week ahead in order to stay on track and avoid overwhelming yourself by leaving everything to the last minute. 

Remember that procrastination is never the answer!

Being busy is a good thing, but having too much on your plate can leave you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

It is a great thing to be an intern, have a job, or be an active member in a club or organization, but you are a college student, after all, and should realize that doing well academically should be your top priority.

If added extracurricular activities are creating excess stress in your life, it may be the wisest decision to cut them out from your schedule. 

While it might sound counter-intuitive to the previous point, there will always be more opportunities to take advantage of in the future, so don’t overwhelm your day-to-day schedule with more things than you can fully commit your time and resources to.

That being said, understand that “fun” activities such as socializing with friends and pursuing hobbies and other interests deserve adequate time in your schedule alongside studying and class time.

A healthy balance between “work” and “play” is essential for maintaining a sound mental well-being, so learn to budget your time effectively to make room for both!

Keep Your Health a Priority

When reorganizing your schedule, don’t forget to keep yourself as a priority.

Just because you’ve decided to skip that club meeting doesn’t mean you can do the same for your seven to eight hours of sleep.

Mid-semester blues are only compounded with a lack of sleep, poor eating habits, and a “skip the gym today” workout routine. Sadly, one of the main reasons that most college students are able to juggle all their activities is because it’s at the expense of something that they shouldn’t be sacrificing: their health.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m also guilty of occasionally staying up until 3 am to finish the reading for a 9 am class. But then I wake up five hours later feeling completely drained, making the entire endeavor worthless.

Next time you find yourself starting to pull a late-nighter for anything, honestly answer this question:  is it really worth it?

Ninety-five percent of the time, you’ll find yourself remembering that there are only a small handful of things more important than taking care of yourself.

Take Time to Relax — and Don’t Feel Guilty

Woman cuddling with her cat

This advice may sound weird, but if you’re really burnt out, don’t do any of your school tasks right now.

Take twenty minutes to go outside and catch some sunshine while it’s still out today. Go next door to catch up with a friend or phone a friend from home for an hour. Make your significant other give you a massage. Have some cuddle time with your pet.

Do whatever you need to do, just relax while doing so.

Most importantly, don’t let your guilt get in the way of enjoying your break. Those twenty minutes will rejuvenate you – you’ll come back with renewed motivation, and will be more able to tackle your workload.

Find Inspiration

Inspirational quotes: Yes you can

It’s easy to lose perspective when all you can see in your crystal ball is more papers, presentations, and exams clouding up your future, but realize that all your hard work will pay off in the end as it prepares you for bigger and better things that are yet to come!

Sometimes we just need someone or something to help spark an interest to keep us moving along in our day-to-day activities.

Inspirational quotes and images displayed somewhere that you will often see can serve as helpful reminders and motivators for being productive. In addition, seeing and reading aloud a daily affirmation can help instill positivity and proactivity and can help motivate you to tackle any challenge that comes your way.

Pinterest is also a great tool to help ignite the fire within you to pursue your interests, whether it be starting your own blog, improving study habits, exercising, eating healthily, or picking up a new hobby.

Surf the internet, read, explore new places, try new things, and talk to lots of people to get those creative juices flowing!

Inspiration can come from a variety of sources. Maybe it’s a news article that will inspire you to make a difference in the world or a professor that will influence you to explore a certain career path.

Find something that speaks to you to help steer you down the path toward productivity and success.

Develop a Support Group

Friends in college

As humans, we are incredibly social beings that rely on support from others to lead healthy, happy lives.

Finding friends and family that support your goals can make a world of difference when it comes to staying motivated.

Trying to focus more on your schoolwork? Join a study group! Looking to become more active? Join an exercise class!

If you have trouble sticking to a task on your own, the support from others cheering you on can help keep you on the right track for accomplishing your goals.

Having support from others can also make mundane tasks more fun and enjoyable, which can help prevent loss of interest and lack of motivation.

Be Realistic but Always Strive for Improvement

Be realistic in undertaking your pursuits – nothing happens overnight and nothing comes easy.

If you put in the effort and truly commit yourself to accomplishing something, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor soon enough.

Be patient; some things take time.

While no one is perfect, never underestimate your potential for self-improvement. All of us, even the most successful people out there, can always work to improve ourselves in one way or another.

Believe in Yourself!

Confident woman

Always work to be the best you can be and never give up on goals that are truly important to you, regardless of how exhausted or frustrated you may become.

We all get worn out from time to time, but realize that there is light at the end of any tunnel and that hard work really does pay off. Life is about taking chances, making mistakes, and never settling for anything less than the best that YOU can be.

Achieving success is all about having the right attitude. As Henry Ford once wisely said, “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right.” Believe in yourself and others will too!

Take a Step Back & Breathe!

Personally, I think one of the reasons why college students get the mid-semester blues is due to a loss of perspective.

It’s easy to get bogged down by juggling four different clubs, a part-time job, internships, a full course load, and trying to keep up a decent social life.

However, it’s important to take a moment to remember that while things are incredibly stressful and difficult right now, this too shall pass

We will not be college students forever, we’ll soon learn that there are no midterms in life (not multiple choice ones, at least), and soon, we’ll have bigger (and more important) things to worry about – and get excited over!


Are you prone to burnout? How do you stay motivated during a slump? Tell me in a comment below!

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