You've procrastinated a whole semester, and now that Thanksgiving is over, it's time to pay for all the nights you spent watching Netflix or hanging out with your friends. It's time to think about the thousands of dollars you've spent to acquire an education and apply all of your knowledge to making it pay off.

Coming from a person who spent many nights freshmen year writing papers due the next day, I know it's not easy, but through trial and error, here are some tips I've found to make it easier.

1. Put your phone away.

First, tell your mom that you're going to be off the grid for a couple days so that she doesn't freak out and assume the worst. Then, as soon as you've done that, put your phone away. Maybe even turn your phone off to maximize your efficiency when doing homework for long periods of time.

Don't worry, your Instagram will still be there when you crawl out of your cave in a couple days, and your friends won't disown you for not constantly checking your Snapchat. Trust me, you'll get so much more done when you're not constantly distracted by the notifications on your cell.


2. Set a schedule

It doesn't sound like fun, and it's going to be hard the first couple of days. However, your body isn't built to live the way we tend to live in college. Our bodies need food and they crave sleep. Eating at the same time every day actually curbs your appetite, so you aren't as hungry at midnight.

Eating irregularly stresses our bodies out. We may know that we aren't in danger of starving, but when we irregularly eat large meals our bodies go into survival mode. Let's avoid gaining that college weight and sleepless nights due to an unquenchable appetite.


3. Avoid high impact social situations

I'm not saying you need to confine yourself to your room until you've taken your last final. However, people are weak-minded creatures. It's hard to break yourself from hanging out with people once you've started.

Especially later in the day, I try to avoid places that attract large numbers of people. Even if it means not eating in the cafeteria or dining room, eating soup alone in my room is a small sacrifice to make when you have a sixteen-page paper due.

4. Make time for your best friends

In less than three weeks, you're going to have to say goodbye for the semester. We all get used to being able to walk across the hall or campus to meet our friends, and nothing can prepare you for the temporary shock you feel when suddenly you're hours away from your closest friends.

For your emotional health alone, you need to make sure that you have people around you who support you. The people who choose to love you unconditionally love you the most, and nothing is worth making sure that they know that you love them.

5. Sleep

I know it's tempting to pull an all-nighter in order to write that paper or to study for that exam. However, by waiting until the wee hours of the morning to cram, you end up producing some of the worst work that you can. In the last few weeks of school, it's important to remember that it's the quality, not the quantity, that matters.

You still have two weeks to get your work finished, so utilize as many daylight hours as possible, and sleep a full eight hours every night so you can come into class on exam day with a clear head that's full of knowledge.

6. Take an hour a day to de-stress

Sometimes, important information gets lost in the overload of information entering your brain during the last few weeks of school. So, if you're stuck in a studying rut, take a few minutes every hour, or even an hour every day to unwind.

Go for a walk and let the cold air shock your system. Dance to some music, or enjoy some much-deserved coffee. However, I recommend staying away from addictive activities such as Netflix or social media. Stopping at one episode of Stranger Things is always much easier said than done.

7. Hydrate

Sorry if I sound too much like your middle school camp counselor, but seriously, guys, you have no idea how important it is for your mental and physical health to keep hydrated. Hydration is necessary to think clearly. Many times, the cravings we get for unhealthy foods come from a lack of hydration.

If you find it hard to drink copious amounts of water, I find that it easier to disguise it. Transform bottles of water with dissolvable packets of tea. Brew tea or coffee in the morning and don't hesitate going back for another mug later.

8. Focus on one thing at a time

Prioritize your tasks and then conquer them in order of importance. Don't move on to the next one until you've finished the one before it. It may seem easier to break up the monotony and switch tasks frequently, but you should not risk losing your train of thought on the task at hand.

Study for exams one class at a time, and take breaks between each study session to clear your head and retain already processed information.

9. Stay Positive

Nothing can hurt your grades worse than your own attitude. Focus on your improvements and not your faults. Don't let yourself become discouraged by all the work you have left to do. Instead, become motivated by all the progress you've made.

10. Stay spiritually healthy

Don't abandon the spiritual habits you've developed over the semester. Although it might be tempting to abandon church or Bible study for some last minute cram time, you should realize the many benefits spiritual health has on your mental health. You'd be surprised how much easier it is to fall asleep when you've prayed first.