I don’t know about you all, but I am in the midst of one of the busiest semesters I’ve ever had. Between taking classes, writing a thesis, contributing to this blog, and much more, I’ve been feeling a bit burnt out. I’m sure I’m not alone in this feeling, what with the one-year anniversary of the pandemic recently passing and the end of another academic year almost in sight. We’ve been through a lot and I thought I would share some of the things that have helped me through this semester so far, in hopes that it may help someone else, too.
The first thing that has made my life a whole lot easier is a citation manager. Almost all of my classes this semester are requiring some form of written work submitted at least every two weeks (with citations, of course), and having a citation manager has made the writing and citing process much easier. I personally use Zotero and it has honestly changed the game. I can organize my citations based on class or project, and it has come in particularly handy in writing my thesis, because I was easily able to go back to articles I saved over a year ago and effectively use them in my writing.
A big thing that I’ve been doing is dedicating at least an hour a day to not doing work or schoolwork. I know this may not be feasible for all people, but even just an hour in the morning or the evening to work on a hobby or, let’s be real, scroll on social media, has allowed me to disconnect from what feels like a never ending loop of work and gives my brain a bit of time to relax.
Along those same lines, I have had to force myself to give myself a break every once and a while. Whether it is taking a weekend day just for life things, like cleaning or groceries, of giving myself permission to do schoolwork on my couch, these little acts have really meant a lot to me. At the beginning of work from home, I was a bit more adamant about not doing work on my couch, but I decided a long time ago that putting some Netflix or a Twitch stream on the TV and working on my computer from my couch is perfectly acceptable as long as I’m doing what I need to get done.
The last thing that has been incredibly valuable to me has been the support of my friends and colleagues. I am fortunate enough to have regular calls with friends twice a week where we have the opportunity to catch up with each other and have, as we call them, “study buddy hours.” The support and accountability from that group has been so uplifting, and I can’t wait to celebrate all of our accomplishments together at the end of this semester.
I realize that none of what I’ve talked about here is groundbreaking stuff, but it’s honestly been the little things that have helped me to get through this past year. With vaccine rollout increasing, I see the light at the end of the tunnel; but I know that we’re not there yet. These feelings of burnout are incredibly real and valid, and I hope that you all are able to get the support you need to make it through these (hopefully) final few months.
Jane Behre is a second-year MLIS student at the University of Maryland. At UMD, she is the coordinator for the First Year Book Program and a Research & Teaching Fellow. Her academic and professional interests include information literacy instruction and health literacy.