If you are still in undergrad or you are in graduate school you know that even though we are so close to Christmas we still have that last week to go through at school and it is literally the worst….finals. I’ve been lucky that I don’t have too much to do but I’m still feeling the pressure. I think that no matter what we do there will always be those moments of uncertainty and overwhelming sense that there isn’t enough time but I put together a short list of a few tips to help you survive finals and manage the upcoming brutal week.
- Have a plan and attainable goals
Before finals begin fill out your agenda with all your due dates and make goals for each day. This will help you stay on top of those important due dates and prioritize your work load. My biggest lifesaver during finals are the amount of lists I make. I will typically fill out a monthly calendar so I can see overall when things are due, I will then plan out finals by weeks: pre-finals week and the week of. Because let’s be real, sometimes we aren’t able to start preparing until the week before, either because we have actual things going on or just because it hasn’t hit you until then that you have finals. After I have completed my monthly and weekly view of finals week I will go to the extreme of planning out each day of those weeks. When you plan out each day it is very important to schedule in your meals and exercise. Make it as important as a study session with a group. Also be sure to include your daily goals, even if it’s as simple as make an outline for your political science paper. You will feel so much better when you can scratch each item off your list. If you don’t like lists or agenda’s try to make a finals only binder. Fill it with dividers and each section is a different subject. Then you’ll have everything you need all together in one place which will make it easier for you to find new study spots if you need to! My binder sections normally goes as follows: Calendars/Schedules, Favorite Quote, Class One (List of finals for class, notes, extra paper), Class two (List of finals for class, notes, extra paper), Class Three, etc. If you stay organized you will be less stressed. Prepare and if you need to use ten different colored pens and washi tape then go for it! No one said you can’t have fun while prepping for finals!
- Nourish your body
I have always been the culprit of forgetting to eat all together, eating easy to go junk food for the meals I did eat and consumed way too much coffee during the week leading to finals and up until that last final was over. Do your body justice and plan ahead to make meal times and prepare healthy snacks. I’ve found it very helpful carrying around two apples and two bananas with me along with my water bottle to make sure that I’m keeping myself from snacking on vending machine goodies. Not only do these healthy snacks keep you alert and energized but you won’t feel bad post finals week. In addition to making sure you’re planning out your healthy meals and snacks, always, always carry a reusable water bottle with you. You won’t believe what staying hydrated does to your body. You will have the energy you need to get through this week if you eat right and drink water. A cup of coffee here or there isn’t bad but do your best to stay hydrated. In addition to maintaining a healthy fuel source for you body, try to maintain a sleep schedule that is as normal as possible. I know what all nighter’s feel like and I understand that sometimes you have no choice but do your best to try and get to bed at a decent hour even if it means waking up earlier. This one may be easier for me because I may be more of a morning person but in my experience I’ve been more productive overall when I decided to head to bed by midnight or 1am and getting up at 5 or 6am instead of staying up all night long and crashing once something is handed in or the exam is over. It’s always difficult recovering after finals and the lack of sleep is a big contributor. Take care of your body and it will work hard for you!
The best way to stay on track is to just remove the distractions. There are different programs you can download for free that controls what websites you visit or forces you to stay on a word processing document. This is really helpful if you love websites like pinterest and tumblr as much as I do! The second problem I have is removing myself from distractions that come from my phone. Leave it at home if you can or throw it in your bag. If you need to keep track of time grab a watch and do it the old fashioned way. I know we want to keep in touch with friends but they’ll understand that you need to put academics ahead for a little while.
Take a step back and breathe. Remember that no matter what happens, life will continue and go on. You will get through the work. Take a walk outside for 30 minutes to get fresh air or if you’d like, go to the gym. I try my best to schedule exercise so I force myself to take a break. It gives your brain some time to unwind and take in what you’ve been doing. You’ll also feel refreshed and ready to get back into it. Do not get stuck in the trap of using the internet as a means to relaxation (unless its really the best thing for you), but seriously try to get yourself out in the sun and fresh air. Honestly with this warm December weather, there is no excuse. But seriously it was 71 in Philly today, what in the world?!
I have plenty of other tips for finals week but these I felt were the most important and often either overlooked or not taken seriously enough. They’re things that I have struggled with during finals as well. If you have any really great tips, please share them! Dear Lord knows I need them!
Do your best, relax and remember that life will go on. Good Luck on Finals!