When I was in the final stretch of finishing school, I remember being overcome with a strange sense of apathy when exam time rolled around. I was a straight A student, one that dedicated the final years of school to hardcore study. But when it actually came time to flex the brain, the ambition that saw me steamrolling through the year seemed to falter.
I lacked the lingo at the time, but in hindsight, it seems I was battling a case of 'senioritis'. Senioritis is the name given to the absence of motivation experienced by students drawing near to the end of a course or schooling year. Think about it as a time-specific case of burnout.
"I would describe it as seeing the finish line and realising you don’t necessarily have to work as hard anymore to reach it," Southern New Hampshire University academic advisor Abby Tincher previously said.
While its origins are found in the school and uni yard, senioritis isn't exclusive to education. The end of the financial year period and holiday seasons can inspire a bout of senioritis in the workplace too.
What are the signs of senioritis?
If you're a student, you might notice your grades slipping, a decrease in class attendance, a missing of deadlines and a significant lack of drive to complete assignments or homework.
In the workplace, senioritis can transpire as a lack of interest or fulfilment in your work, rocking up to work late and a detachment from work achievements and successes. Procrastination, boredom, apathy and distractibility are some of the key indicators of senioritis too.
What causes senioritis?
Senioritis isn't uncommon. Feeling fatigued or restless at school or work is a part of life. But there are a few standout reasons as to why you might be experiencing senioritis.
Underpinning senioritis is the feeling of being close to finishing something; something you care about. The overwhelming pressure to achieve and succeed can drive senioritis — think of it like a pot of boiling water tipping over the edge.
Another cause is having an end-goal mindset which means viewing the end of the year as a final goal. Rather than viewing study or work as a continual journey, putting all importance on a certain date or milestone can hike up pressure and subsequently, exhaustion.
How can you cure senioritis?
Senioritis is not always a cause for concern and luckily there are many methods to tackle it.
1. Set goals: This can help combat feeling overwhelmed by large tasks or assignments. Setting smaller, achievable goals along the way can empower your sense of productivity.
2. Take breaks: Work-life balance isn't just some pretty phrase, it's something that needs to be actively worked on. Try building breaks into your workday; perhaps TikTok's four quarters productivity method is your style.
3. Reward yourself: If Pavlov's dogs have taught us anything, it's that rewards lead to effective action. By looking back and practising gratitude and self-praise, we can start to push back on any apathetic feelings that have arisen.
While senioritis is impermanent, it could be pointing to something niggling under the surface. If your feelings of boredom and indifference don't budge, it could be time to take a holiday, or even look for another job or career path. When a work slump becomes a work slumber, a shake-up could be the wake-up you need.