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Classes are wrapping up at the University of Northwestern–St. Paul. The last day of classes is Thursday, May 6, and finals week is May 10–13. Just like that, the school year of 2020–2021 is coming to a close. Like many students, I am feeling extremely overwhelmed by all that is coming up.

Staying motivated is difficult when summer is just around the corner. Now, with little time left of school, it is extra important not to give up. To get through the rest of classes and finals week, we as students need to keep our eyes on the prize.

Our academic work is one way we can honor God in our lives. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (NIV). Even though we may be exhausted from a long semester, it is imperative that we steward our time well and work at our studies with all our hearts.

I know how difficult this part of the semester can be. Because of this, I came up with a few tips and tricks to get through an overwhelming workload as well as finals week.

1. Make a list.

When I begin to think about all the things I have to get done in a short amount of time, I begin to panic and lose perspective of all that I really have to do. Making a list is the first thing I do to help calm my mind. It helps to have a practical list of all that needs to be done and when everything is due. It is also helpful to see that when everything on that list is finished, summer will be here, and all school worries will be gone.

2. Manage your time.

This seems like a no-brainer, but it is extremely helpful to plan out your week and know what days you are going to work on and/or finish an assignment, paper or project. For me, it really helps motivate my brain when I know what to work on for the day. When there is a plan, it can be easier to follow through and get things done.

3. Get some sleep.

Sleep is important for your brain and body and helps keep you running. If you do not sleep, you are more susceptible to getting sick. Lack of sleep can also result in a foggy brain, which is unable to work as efficiently as a well-rested brain. You will get more done by getting enough sleep than you would by continuously pulling all-nighters or going to bed at 4 a.m.

4. Find a good playlist.

Instrumental music has been key for my own motivation. I recommend some intense instrumental music from video games or movies, which can give the brain an illusion of more urgency to get work done. It is important to know yourself though. If you need quiet, find a quiet space. If you work better with noise, then find that. Discover your optimal working conditions and create that environment for yourself.

5. Spend time with the Lord.

Last but not least, it is imperative that we maintain our relationships with God. He alone gives peace and restoration to our weary bodies. Jesus provides rest (Matthew 11:28). Take time to be in community with believers in prayer and worship. Dig into the Word. As 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”