By Hanna Seferos

Assistant Director of Academic Advising, University of Chicago – Harris School of Public Policy

Vice Chair for Communications, Commission for Student Involvement


There is a point each quarter (or semester), where I feel a bit of a slump. The excitement of new classes wanes, things start to slow down for my work, and students get bogged down in theirs. The energy seems to drop and the next holiday can’t come quickly enough for students who are in the thick of it That shift impacts me more than I often realize. While I work at a quarter system school and things move a bit quicker, I still experience that mid-quarter slump that can make it tough to maintain motivation and excitement for the work. Do you ever get that feeling?

I am getting to that point now and even though that period isn’t the same for every student affairs professional, I think we can all relate to this feeling. For me each time it comes around, I have a hard time digging myself out of that place because the overall low energy can cause me to lose my daily motivation.

I often have to catch myself and reframe my mindset so that I can both utilize this time to take a breath from what was likely a busy period and also purposefully look ahead to how I can make the time more enjoyable for myself and students. Here are a few things I do to help me find my groove again.

  1. Determine the root cause. Is there something in particular or new that is causing this slump? Is there something you can do differently or that you can change to help make this time period better? This is easier said than done to examine but if you are able to pinpoint the cause, it will be easier to change or counteract what is causing the overall feeling.
  2. Find joy outside of work. When I get into that slump at work, sometimes it spreads to my personal life and makes the impact event greater. When I feel this happening, I stop and ask myself, “What is one thing I can do today or this week to bring myself joy?” For me, that is getting dinner with a friend, going for a run, or reading a book when I get home. Whatever it is for you, this can help feed your overall energy.
  3. Debrief with a trusted colleague. Sometimes what I really need to do is talk about it and that makes me feel loads better. In some cases, we just chat and that alone is helpful. In other cases, they provide helpful solutions based on their experience that I can implement.
  4. Make a bite-sized plan. When I am stressed, my first instinct is to make a plan and execute on it, but when I am in a slump, motivating myself to make a plan is more difficult. To help, rather than sitting down to tackle full-sized problems to start, I will look at what is coming and turn that into bite-sized tasks. Then, I can spread them out as they make sense to complete. Not only does that make checking more things off my to-do list more satisfying, but it also makes impending items feel less overwhelming because they aren’t so arduous to complete.
  5. Enjoy the moment. Maybe this slump is a natural pausing point for you which you can utilize to recharge your battery. I often struggle when I am in a slow period, but I have to remember that we all deserve a break and this slump can be reframed as an opportunity for rest.

Feeling the mid-quarter slump or a general slump in your work is natural; we can’t be totally productive and high energy all the time. It’s how we navigate this period that impacts our personal and professional life. Make time for yourself and take small steps to help you find your groove.

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