Preventing essay burnout

A foolproof guide to surviving the pre-Christmas essay season

Art by Natalie Duda

With just a laptop, headphones, and a mug of coffee for company, the prospect of looming assignment deadlines can seem a less daunting than you may expect with this ten easy steps

Step 1

Complain about how much work you have to do and list out all your deadlines. The key to is to make sure that you talk about your essays and your essays only, repeating the same spiel to everyone you know about how stressful it is.

Step 2

After telling everyone about all the work you have to do, quickly follow with repitions of “I’m fine, it’s fine, everything’s fine!” or maybe “but sure look, I’ll get it done eventually”, knowing full well that you aren’t fine, it is not fine, and everything’s not fine – but you will get it done eventually.

Step 3

Go sit in the library, leaving every 30 or 40 minutes for a well-deserved break to get coffee and practice the first two steps again for good measure. Then, go back to the library and type/read/write before going on your phone for 25 minutes.

Step 4

Give up on the library. Tell yourself you did a good chunk of work and you’ll do more at home. This is a lie. You go home, open your laptop, plug in your headphones and tell yourself “I’ll just watch one episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and then get to work.” Let 2 to 4 hours pass, sigh and admit it’s too late and you need to sleep because self-care is important

Step 5

Lie in bed thinking about all the work you have to get done, work yourself into an anxious mess, breath deeply and spend the next five minutes calming yourself down and making a study plan for the next day whilst choking back tears. Tell yourself “this is good, I’m okay, I know what I’m doing!” in a breath of false positivism. Enjoy your sleep.

Step 6

Wake up the next morning and go to the library, lecture or tutorial. Practice steps one and two again, plus a joke about how tired you are and how all you want is a healthy night’s sleep, then hit the books for 20 minutes before taking that all too familiar, well-deserved coffee break.

Step 7

Find a reason for a house party or night out. Drink to forget the weight of 2500 word essays and impending deadlines. Spend the next morning hungover and give up on going to college early to get work done.

Step 8

Finally drag your hungover ass into college and hunker down in the library once more, your fragile soul too precious to take the glares of the hardcore studiers who can smell the stale wine and smoking area scent a mile away. Practice steps three and four.

Step 9

Go home and call your parents to cry about college and work. Feel a bit better because they take pity on you, or they don’t and tell you to deal with it, this is your education. You may feel a lot better, or considerably worse after this step.

Step 10

Repeat steps one to nine until all essays are handed in.