"Emma reading in the sun"This morning, I was chatting with a friend who’s been finding it hard to stay motivated about their schoolwork. When I mentioned I felt the same way, we joked about how there must be some kind of midterm slump going around.

After an exceptionally busy start to the semester—what with switching courses, drafting grad school applications, and more—I’m feeling more than a little tired. So I’ve been trying some new strategies for staying motivated.

We had some unseasonably good weather in Kingston this weekend, so I set up some chairs outside and completed my readings in the sun. I was hoping that a change in scenery would boost my motivation to work. Luckily, it did. I’m hoping the weather stays golden for just a few more weeks, but now that I’ve written this down, it’ll probably change!

Another strategy I’ve been trying to help me stay motivated is working in a coffee shop. I know not everyone benefits from having background noise while they're working, but I think it is worth a shot! In first year, I used to work at Cogro in the ARC (and The Brew, which I miss so much!) all the time, but during the pandemic, I did all of my work at home. After such a long time, I almost forgot that I could even work somewhere other than my house!

As things start to open up, I am starting to get back to working at Cogro. I find it is really motivating to be surrounded by other people who are also working, but the library is just too quiet for me. Plus Cogro’s chai lattes are great!

Lastly, I’ve chatted in my previous blog posts about wanting to find a better balance between school and life. Oddly enough, one of the biggest motivators for me in keeping up with my schoolwork is keeping up with my friends. I’ve pencilled “free time” into my weekly schedule. I fill that time with more hangouts and friends where I might otherwise have filled it with work. When I know I have made a commitment to meet with a friend later in the day, I’m more likely to stay focused on—and complete!—my work in the morning. Plus, when I get back from hanging out with my friends, I usually feel recharged and ready to hit the books. I’ve actually just come back from lunch with a friend at Juniper Café—10/10 would recommend their fig and pecan salad (and I’m so not a salad eater!).

I mentioned in my last blog post that I had switched into ARTH 310: Art and Feminisms. This course has been a stand-out from my time at Queen’s. The material covers everything from seventeenth-century history paintings to modern-day video installations. The content is all filtered through feminist lenses, which is a topic that I am passionate about.

Currently, we’re working on a project to add an article to Wikipedia. I have spent weeks researching the artist that I would like to add to Wikipedia—and I mean weeks. If there’s one thing this project has taught me so far, it’s the value of patience. Because of the nature of our relatively short semesters, most of our projects are squished into a short span of a couple of weeks, and I often feel pressure to get things done as quickly as possible. However, this Wikipedia project spans the whole semester, so there is a great deal more time to devote to planning, research, etc.

I’m really excited to start adding the article to Wikipedia, and to eventually publish my work, but I know I’m not there yet. I still have some ideas to research—not to mention I need to learn how to edit on Wikipedia! Ultimately, though, this project has forced me to push back against my impulse to get the work done as fast as possible. Not all assignments have the same long-term structure, and many are urgent, but this project has been a reminder of the value of slowing things down.

So if I can leave you with one piece of advice, it would be to start your next assignment a little early and give yourself that extra time to slow down your process. Oh—and since we’re giving out advice, I would also recommend that you stream the new season of Derry Girls when you’re not working. I watched the show over the reading break, and I cannot stop recommending it to people!


Until next time, Gaels!



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