Thanksgiving break is over which means it is time to push through the last weeks of the semester. With final projects, papers and tests, this time of year can be extremely hectic and stressful—especially as the holiday season approaches. It can be difficult to find motivation during winter finals week when all you want to do is cozy up and drink hot chocolate, but don’t let yourself off the hook just yet! Here are some tips to help you stay motivated and survive finals week.
Make a Schedule
Perhaps you live by a strict schedule on a regular basis, but if you don’t, finals week is a good time to start. Chances are you have a lot going on with deadlines that are very close to one another. Time management will be key as you try to finish large assignments and study for cumulative tests within a span of two weeks.
Prioritizing tasks will be helpful since you’ll likely have to give more time and attention to some classes over others. For example, if you have a C in a class and your final test is cumulative, you may spend more time studying for it in comparison to the class you have an A in with a non-cumulative final. Of course, the deadline or date of each project, paper and test will determine when you work on a given class. If you have two weeks to study for a final but have a paper due in two days, it would be wise for you to put the finishing touches on your paper before you begin studying.
The challenge with finals week is that your deadlines may overlap and you have to pick and choose what you decide to devote your time to. This is where making a detailed schedule of your study time comes in handy so you can make sure that you aren’t forgetting anything and you are spending your time and energy efficiently.
Take Time Out
Certainly it is expected that you devote a large amount of your time to studying and doing schoolwork during the last couple weeks of the semester, but you also need to make sure to keep a degree of balance. If you work yourself constantly without sleep or taking a break, your energy will run low and you won’t study as effectively anyway.
To keep yourself alert, focused, and sane, make sure that you take time out for yourself. Some of these breaks may only need to be five minutes while others may last an hour or two. Really, it depends on how long you’ve been working, what tasks you have left to do, and how you are feeling physically and mentally. For shorter breaks during your study time, take a short walk around the building or down the street. You can also grab a quick snack, call a friend or watch a funny video online. If you have been studying all day, it’s five o’clock and you feel exhausted but still have more to do, a longer break may be warranted. Take a couple of hours to grab dinner and take a shower before coming back to your work. You’ll feel more energized and ready to get a few more hours of studying in before bedtime.
It’s important to make sure that you are not only eating regular meals during finals week, but also that the meals you are eating are healthy. Loading up on fat and sugar can drain you of energy and make you feel sluggish and unfocused. A small treat every once in a while won’t hurt, but you are better off eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein, and “good” carbs to fuel you with long-term energy. Also, having a ton of sugary energy drinks may help you feel awake for a couple of hours but you will end up crashing and feeling pretty low later on. To keep long-lasting energy, drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you absolutely need caffeine, a cup of coffee should suffice in helping you stay awake.
Find a Study Space
Not all study spaces are created equal. Depending on your study style, certain environments may be more conducive for productivity than others. If you are one who focuses well with outside noise and activity, consider studying in a public place such as a coffee shop or food court. The white noise and passerby will keep you alert and focused on your work. For those who require absolute silence and stillness when studying, find a place that is designated or known for being a quiet study space. Often times, these spaces are found on the top floors of the library. Otherwise, most colleges and universities have private study rooms that you can use, but you may have to reserve them online.
If you’re like me, you may fall somewhere in the middle. I find that I can’t fully focus in public environments but complete silence makes me uncomfortable. Typically, I can find a happy medium by studying on the first few floors of the library or going somewhere quiet and listening to music. One general tip I have regarding study spaces is to get out of your bedroom or apartment. Being too comfortable can hinder productivity levels and if you’re anything like me, studying in bed or on the couch usually results in falling asleep. Otherwise, you may find yourself procrastinating by doing things around your apartment such as cleaning, eating, or organizing. To avoid distraction and procrastination, I recommend that you go to a campus building or some other location.
Don’t forget to treat yourself when finals are over! Make plans with friends or set aside time for yourself to relax. Plan your reward before finals week to help you stay motivated and give you something to look forward to. Have a movie night, go to dinner with your friends, order take-out, see a show or honestly, just cozy up in your bed with some Netflix and popcorn.
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