This time of year can be particularly difficult for students; the end of the semester is in sight, but a plethora of projects and assignments stand between you and winter break. As a graduate student, it can be especially challenging, as many of us have friends with full-time jobs who don’t have any homework or studying to do outside of work. Although it may be tempting to want to ignore that to-do list and pretend your school work doesn’t exist, you know you’ll ultimately pay for it later. Here are some tips I follow to help keep myself motivated during the last few weeks of the semester:

1.) Take one thing at a time. Seeing a long list of things to do can be extremely overwhelming and can leave you wondering where to even begin. Making a list and prioritizing can help you figure out what things to tackle first.

2.) Set time limits. If I have all day to complete an assignment, there’s a good chance I’m going to spend all day working on it, even if it’s something I could get done in just a few hours. If I give myself a reasonable time limit, however, I find that I am generally able to complete a task in that time window. Therefore, making a schedule and restricting the amount of time to allot to each task you have in front of you can help you be more efficient in getting your work done.

3.) Take breaks. Most of us mere mortals can’t focus for the 16 or so hours we are awake during the day, so stepping away from your work here and there to refresh and recharge is crucial to getting things done efficiently. Every few hours or so, it helps to go for a walk, surf the web, or just watch a few minutes of TV before returning to your tasks. Additionally, I find that when I schedule breaks into my day, I’m actually more motivated to get things done in a timely manner. For example, planning to go out to dinner or see a movie with a friend gives you an incentive to finish your work beforehand.

4.) Remove distractions. Although it may be tempting to want to have the Sabres game on in front of you, it may not be easy to concentrate on your work while Sabres are scoring goals left and right! Okay, well maybe they aren’t actually scoring any goals right now BUT the point is that chances are, your productivity is going to plummet when you’re not in a focused, quiet environment with distractions removed. So turn off the TV, close Facebook and Pinterest, and put your phone on silent. A few hours spent with your energy focused on a task will save you a lot of time in the long run.

5.) Focus on the positives. Right now, the end of finals week is less than a month away! Try to concentrate on the great feeling you’ll get as you hand in your last final exam, knowing that you put forth your best efforts. Keep in mind that you will soon have an entire month with no school. Furthermore, try to remember that all the projects and studying you are doing now will help save you time in the future. Because Canisius offers such a rigorous accounting education, I try to remind myself that it is not just busy-work that I’m doing; I’m actually preparing for the CPA exam, as well as for a lifetime career in accounting!

In the next few weeks, keep your motivation up and remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel!