I’ve entered that brief period of the year where the sky is gray all the time and the days all blur together. The cold has finally set in; it snowed today, enough to leave traces of white all over trees and bushes and grass, like a taste of what’s to come. I love the style of winter clothes, but I’ve never felt comfortable in them myself. I prefer sunlight on bare legs and arms to the biting wind that is so characteristic of where I live. This is not my favorite time of year. The autumn gales gnaw at my bones and make my skin crawl.

This time of year, I have to constantly remind myself to be productive. It’s too easy to sit around in sweatpants, drink tea, stare out the window, and play music that’s as dismal and colorless as the weather outside. But I can’t let my daily life degenerate into something that dull—not when there are books to read and rooms to clean and tests to study for and workouts to finish. If I have to chase out this feeling of unconquerable monotony with running shoes and textbooks and vacuum cleaners, so be it. Anything to finish the day feeling like I’ve accomplished something. Anything at all.