For most of us, finals are next week (unless you had your’s this week and are already on break, because if you are, I’m jealous of you) and stress levels are rising and rising. For me, this year’s finals have definitely been the most hectic for two reasons; 1.) it’s junior year and 2.) my school has always had finals after break and it’s difficult to adjust to the two week shorter semester. If you’re feeling like me with a lot on your plate, here is some advice to (try) and end finals week in one piece.
This is a huge one for me, and not just during finals. It’s key to keep a list so there’s no way you’ll forget an important task. When I say make lists, I mean two things: keep a planner and make a to-do list. It may seem like a lot but it may really help you to use these two types of lists. I use my jumbo Lilly Pulitzer planner (the size is perfect if you’re a busy person) to write tasks down at school and during busy weeks like the past few. Then when I get home, I also take all the tasks from my planner and put them onto a list so I can chronologically complete the assignments. I also put personal tasks on the to-do list so everything I need to finish is all in one place (as opposed to a planner and floating around in my head).
Drink Caffeine but Not Too Much
If you are a person that isn’t too sensitive to caffeine, then it could definitely be a useful tool to keep you energized. Be careful though, it’s easy to overdose on caffeine during finals season. This is not ideal because too much caffeine may lead to anxiety, headaches, nausea, and not being able to get adequate sleep which is vital (source). Also, if you are drinking too much caffeine (do not to exceed 500mg a day), you could develop a tolerance to it which in turn causes a cup of coffee to not boost your energy like it used to; caffeine tolerance could also lead you to hardly be able to get through your day without a cup of coffee.
Listen to Music
If music boosts your study sessions, experiment to get a feel for which kind of music you work best while listening to. Some prefer classical or relaxation music because it has no words and other prefer upbeat songs that motivate them. Personally, I’ve noticed I’m very productive when listening to “vocal jazz” music (think Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, etc).
Take Smart Breaks
We all have taken “study breaks” that last an hour and all of the sudden we are watching a youtube video on how to make soap… Don’t do this. I promise you, it’s not worth it. Taking smart breaks begins with the timing, so after 50/60 minutes of nothing but studying, take a 10 minute break. During this break, you could go get a piece of fruit, do some jumping jacks and crunches, make yourself some tea, or pick out your outfit for tomorrow. What you’ll want to avoid is social media on this break because it’s way too easy to get distracted. Another don’t would be a “power nap”, even if t’s just 20 minutes, because if your brain is fried, a short nap could very well turn into a two hour long nap.
To avoid any of those study break distractions, simply log out of all of your social media before you start your work. However, if you still think you might slip, temporarily delete your apps that may distract you. If you have next to no self control (and don’t use your phone for music), turn your phone off.
Get in Comfortable Clothing
What you’re wearing makes all the difference. Although a lot of people, myself included, find that they work well when they are in normal clothes, after spending the whole day at school, sometimes jeans just aren’t the best option. I like to wear leggings and a long sleeve so that I’m comfortable but not to the point where I look like I just woke up from hibernation which, in turn, makes me feel that way too.
So important. Really we should be drinking water all the time, but if that’s difficult for you to remember, at least make sure you’re drinking enough during busy times like finals. I’ve noticed a big difference in my overall wellbeing when I started to drink two or three nalgenes a day (this kind is my favorite-it will never spill on you).
Probably the most important piece of advice out there for students. Yes, some people function great on 5 hours of sleep and yes, I know it’s difficult to get much more than that when you’ve got finals around the corner. However, 8 hours can only do good things for your health, attitude, and productivity; or if you are like me, you might need at least 7 hours of sleep to function. If you work hard early on in the evening, you will free up more time for sleep!
Declutter your Workspace
This might be a resented task for the messier people reading this, but having a clean desk or workspace translates into having a clean mind. If you are working with clutter all around you, you may easily get anxious or distracted by all the nick-nacks and dirty laundry laying around. I personally have to have my room spotless to be able to work efficiently, and I find it almost therapeutic to clean my room and desk.
Study in a Quiet Place
Not only is it important to keep a clean space, but a quiet place can boost productivity also. If listening to music whole working is not for you, you’ll want to make sure you at least work somewhere quiet.
I’ve become such a tea person this year and I can truly say that tea is beneficial in many ways. Caffeinated tea will provide energy, but without the potential risks and helps focus me. Tea also has many health benefits (and it tastes really darn good too).
Keep in mind, these are all study tips that have helped me personally. Remember, finals are only a few days long and you don’t have to put your whole life on hold and loose all your sanity. We’re all feeling a little stressed under the finals pressure, but Matthew 11:28-30 is a good verse to keep in mind for times like these!
You got this!