Sayonara, senioritis: testing out productivity hacks


Angie Gulizia and Mekiah Glynn

At this point in the school year, senioritis is hitting the class of 2021 pretty hard. It’s not just the seniors who are struggling, though— students in all grades are becoming burnt out. In an attempt to do something about our rapidly decreasing motivation levels and equally increasing Canvas to-do lists, we decided to test out some “hacks” to make being productive a little easier.

1.Make a to-do list with a reasonable amount of work

For this hack, we wrote an organized list with all the stuff we needed to get done, within reason. Could having a list keep you on track and give you the motivation to get all your work done?


I already write to-do lists every day, so this hack wasn’t too different for me. What was new, though, was giving myself a reasonable amount of work to do; I always make ridiculously long lists and then procrastinate or end up feeling bad because there’s still a lot that I didn’t get done. On Saturday, I only put a few items on my to-do list, and I was able to complete them all. After I finished my work, I found that I was actually able to relax without the other tasks looming in my subconscious. On Sunday, a little too excited from my earlier success, I made my list too long again and only got half of it done. Overall, this hack is great and makes you feel so productive—when you do it right. That takes repetition and a lot of self-awareness, but I’m definitely up for it and will continue trying this.


Making a list was one of the easiest tasks that were recommended to improve motivation. Thankfully it was so easy because it was one of the most helpful hacks. Every day, I wrote down a list of things I wanted to get done that was realistic for the time I had each day. Having a written plan was very helpful to me because it provided a clear plan that laid out my entire day. Keeping the list short and realistic helped me feel more productive and actually get more things done. When there is a giant list it can be intimidating so I made sure to keep the lists short and clear so I didn’t feel any extra stress when trying to get everything done. So does it cure senioritis? I would say that this does help manage senioritis, if you are willing to stay committed to the list and get everything done, then this list can help with your lack of motivation.

2.Share your goal with others

For this trick, we sent our to-do lists to each other to hold each other accountable. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing to tell your friend what you’re going to get done today and then have nothing to show to back up that earlier proclamation? 


In a sense…yes. Knowing that Mekiah was going to ask me that evening about what I got done definitely gave me an extra source of motivation. However, since we’re both seniors and therefore going through the same decline in energy, I discovered that telling her about my failed attempt to finish my mile-long list was extremely easy. Maybe we’re just too forgiving with each other. To be honest, though, no amount of motivation was going to get me to finish all those assignments in one day, so it was my fault and didn’t have anything to do with the hack. If you try this, I recommend finding a friend who will guilt you endlessly if you don’t stick to your word. (Sorry Mekiah…I guess you’re too understanding in this situation.)


Accountability really should be the most motivational hack since there is an outside force to tell if you got absolutely nothing done. However, I figured out that although telling Angie what I had to get done was helpful, I could do half my things or finish them all at 2 am after procrastinating for the entire day with no consequences. If you are trying this hack I recommend that you use someone that isn’t doing similar work to you. When Angie and I were holding each other accountable I noticed that if one of us wasn’t productive then it was almost a relief and an excuse for the other person to also not be productive. So just like we have been doing throughout high school Angie and I most definitely fueled each other’s procrastination. 

3.Exercise before starting your work

Does getting your blood flowing help give you motivation? If getting outside and exercising helps improve motivation, then doing it right before you sit down to do your classwork should be what we need to fix senioritis.


Since I had gymnastics practice Saturday morning, this hack fit right into my schedule, and I was able to get some exercise before starting my work. I noticed that I was a lot more awake and alert than when I don’t get any movement in. I also noticed that my focus improved and my mind wasn’t constantly racing. Unlike the energy boost coffee gives me, I wasn’t jittery at all, so I was able to sit still while doing my work. Exercising before starting on your work is amazing and helps me be super productive. I will be making an effort to do this more often!


I had a lot of hope for this hack. However this motivation hack fell short when I realized after I got exercise I was awake and motivated, but I was more ready to clean my room or something that involves moving than I was to sit at my desk and type out an essay. So did this hack give me motivation? Yes, and a lot of it I was awake and productive for hours. But did it motivate me to get my to-do list done? Absolutely not. I spent an entire day reorganizing my dresser and closet while I had a mile-long list of school work to get done. Maybe this is my short attention span or my reluctance to sit any longer at my computer than I have to, but I found this hack does not help with senioritis. 

4. Take breaks between working

The Pomodoro method for studying is very popular, which is 25 minutes of working and a 5-minute break. However, a study shows that the ideal timing is working for 52 minutes and breaking for 17. So does it really work on teenagers today?


I’ve never had much luck with timing my work sessions because as soon as I get into a good workflow, it’s time for a break. Then I end up scrolling on TikTok for half an hour when I was supposed to be taking a 5-minute break. Knowing that the timing method isn’t great for me, I decided to work until I get into a good flow and then take a break when I start getting distracted. I tried this for a few rounds, and then I got tired and wasn’t able to get back into a good workflow. Overall, I’d recommend timing your work sessions and breaks, seeing how it goes, and adjusting these two methods to your preference.


Do perfectly timed breaks and work sessions make any difference with motivation? I really did not like this hack. Usually, my working sessions come from randomly timed moments of productivity that I take advantage of while they last. Sitting down and setting timers for breaks distracted me more than it motivated me. I found myself checking the timer constantly during the working time and when it was time for the break I was snoozing the timer more than I was listening to it. I could see this hack working for people who miss the consistency of the bells at school and want to have times set to get work done, but if you are already unmotivated I don’t think a phone alarm is enough to get you working. 

5. Introducing fun into your work

Who doesn’t enjoy listening to music while doing homework? Maybe adding fun to our work like we would have done in elementary school is all seniors need to keep their motivation up. 


I know I enjoy listening to music while doing my assignments, but it only worked for certain subjects. Math? No problem. I successfully rapped all of Hamilton’s “Guns and Ships” without even stopping my statistics homework. Spanish was a different story. Listening to music in one language and trying to think in another is ridiculously difficult. I had to turn it off to get any work done for English as well. I enjoy spending time outside, so I sat in my backyard to do my work. It was really relaxing and helped me focus a lot. If you want to try this hack, know which assignments you’re able to be a little distracted during and which ones need your full attention.


Adding fun to your homework can work in some situations but definitely not all of them. First of all, listening to music is more distracting than helpful for me. If my favorite song comes on my playlist it’s more likely that I’ll get distracted listening to that and forget to read the rest of the AP Government chapter. Now adding in the fun distraction of having an award at the end of the assignment really helped me. There was something about the promise of a cup of cold brew that made me write a 500-word scholarship essay in one sitting that normally I would procrastinate for a week. So I think adding fun works if you use it correctly so it doesn’t just become another distraction.