Ah, we have made it to the strange part of the semester where we feel like it's done, but then we get slapped with reality the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Two and a half more weeks of craziness and cramming to go before we get one more well-deserved break. This year's twist? Finals are online AND at home. Try some of these tips to help make "dead week" a little more bearable, yes, even while at home.
Clean your study space
In high school, my room at home was always the messy type with a clean path from the door to my bed. Since being in college and having to share a space with a roommate for three years now, I like my room clean with clothes and papers put away. It helps me stay focused on my homework and studying instead of getting distracted by a giant pile of papers sitting next to me.
According to researchers at Princeton University, clutter makes it more difficult to focus on a certain task. Clean off your desk, organize the mess, and get to work. Make your space feel like yours, a place where you are happy and comfortable while hustling to get stuff done! Need more inspiration to clean out your bedroom, office, or wherever you'll be taking finals? Check out this article from Psychology Today.
Make lists and stick to them
I thrive and survive off of lists. Really, just ask my friends what I look forward to during "Sunday Scaries" and they'll say "making my weekly lists." It's a process.
First, I re-do and update the whiteboard on my desk with my upcoming weekly calendar of events and assignments. Then, I open my color-coded planner to the week's assignments and make a sticky note on my laptop desktop of everything I need to get done during the week. On top of that, I make a detailed post-it note list every night before bed of what I have to do the next day. (Side note, this also helps me fall asleep quicker because thoughts aren't racing around my head trying to remember what I have to do the next day.)
All of this helps me time manage myself and stay on top of my assignments and activities.
Don't take exams in bed
I'm 100% guilty of studying in bed, writing essays in bed, editing photos in bed (guess where I am writing this article right now…) but when it comes to exams, it is important to take them sitting at a desk or table. It will help you focus and perform better on the test when you aren't cozied up with pillows and blankets.
Also, if you're taking an exam through a proctored system, it usually flags your exam for your professor if you are not sitting up with a solid background. So, sitting in bed during a proctored exam will probably result in a flagged test.
Incentivize and reward yourself
The hardest part of starting a project is the actual starting part. It becomes a lot easier when you break down what you have to do when and then prioritize assignments that need to be done first. If you have something to look forward to as you check things off of your "to-do list" it will be easier to stay focused.
"When I finish this essay I will get a coffee," "when I get through this math assignment I will scroll through Tik Tok," "when I write three more pages I will get a snack."
Go to a local library or coffee shop if they are open
At school (before COVID), I loved sitting in the Espresso Royale coffee shop on campus to do homework. It was a change of scenery and with it being right next to the School of Music, I would see a lot of my marching band friends coming in and out! Something about that shop always makes me work more efficiently (or maybe it's just the coffee...who knows?)
If indoor dining is available in your state (or if you're a lucky one living in a warm climate with comfortable outdoor dining) head to a coffee shop, restaurant, or local library to get work done. While you're at it, support a local small business instead of a big chain!
...Check your wifi...
Before you take a big online exam, make sure your wifi is set up and ready to go!! In one of my classes last semester, a student explained to the professor that his wifi wasn't working so he couldn't attend class. The professor's response? "Try to sit in your car in a library parking lot with wifi."
Get creative, have a backup plan, and find reliable internet because you never know how your professor will respond to unstable wifi. Libraries, McDonald's parking lots or a friend's house would all be great "Plan B's!"
Good luck this season!! Take breaks, eat well, socialize, and don't forget your end goals! We've got this, college kids ;)
Just a few weeks away from another break!