Monday, March 10, 2014

Surviving Finals Week Like a Pro: My Top 10 Tips

Because sometimes you simply need a turkey tablecloth to help you study.

Why hello there, friends!
This is the week known as Dead Week, which is typically anything but "dead," unlike the name suggests. From my experience it's always the busiest week of the term: last minute assignments are given and there's a mad scramble to get all your papers written or final projects completed or cram for an exam.

As I write this it's the Sunday night before the Monday that signifies the start of Dead Week, and guess what? I have all my finals done, minus one paper to write. I now have a full week to write it, completely stress-free.

How did I manage that? Well, I'm a graduate student so I've already had four years of stressful finals to learn what works and what doesn't work for me. I like to think I know a thing or two about studying by now! If you're struggling or feeling overwhelmed as finals approach, then read on, my friend!

1. Get a head start. Start a week early. Start TWO weeks early. Think about all that stuff you want to do after finals. You could be doing all that fun, exciting stuff sooner if you start early! 

2. Schedule everything. Mark down when all your finals are/when projects are due in your planner. What, you don’t have a planner?

3. Get a planner. Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do without my planner. Even if you only use it for a week, it's worth the money to get one. Mine contain my whole life (I use two). And I’d like to believe I’m so forgetful about some things because this:

I forgot to water your plants because I was thinking
about writing, okay?

4. Use lists and set realistic goals.
This goes hand in hand with using a planner. Organize assignments by priority and try to tackle one thing at a time. Have a large assignment? Divide it into smaller, more manageable parts. Plus, nothing is more satisfying that crossing stuff off a list.

I have to make an agenda or else I end up binge-watching Downton Abbey all weekend.

5. Sticky notes are your friend. I plaster my apartment with them so I remember important things. Like to feed the dog (kidding!). Usually I use these for smallerbut still importantdetails, like sending in my invoices for work or scheduling appointments. 

6. Sit at the table. No, the coffee table doesn’t count. I also make sure I'm not wearing pajama pants or yoga pants because being super comfy makes me want to sleep instead of doing work. 

7. Make bulk-sized meals so you have lots of leftovers and don’t have to worry about interrupting your homework groove with cooking. Think comfort food. I find myself making mashed potatoes, spaghetti, sloppy Joes, etc. during finals. If you're a real go-getter, plan some healthy snacks to keep on hand. 

8. Brew a full pot of coffee. Tea is nice, but nothing gets me through an all-nighter study session better than a strong pot of black coffee.

And a spiffy mug definitely doesn't hurt either.

9. Take care of yourself. Eat. Get some sleep. Remember to take a shower and try to look presentable. You’ll feel much better, I promise. 

10. Remember to take a break now and then. Walk your dog (he probably needs the attention), clean a small portion of your apartment (it's probably a disaster by now), do some yoga (you probably need the exercise).

What are your tips and tricks for surviving finals?

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