10 Tips To Survive Dead Week And Finals
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10 Tips To Survive Dead Week And Finals

The best methods to squeeze out that last bit of motivation

10 Tips To Survive Dead Week And Finals
Kent Broadbent

While I am so excited that Thanksgiving break is near, I am also stressing the fact that finals are just around the corner. If any of y’all are like me, I stress the future way before it gets here. So with that being said, I started thinking of some things that I can start doing now to prepare myself mentally and emotionally for finals week, so I don’t get overstressed and completely shut down. The most logical ideas are to start studying early, make study guides, and refresh yourself on all of the stuff you learned in the first two months of the semester, but let’s get real, no one is going to do it. While it is a great idea, it’s not practical.

We are all in college, we know we should be doing our work ahead of time, but were not. It's human nature. We are going to cram that week before (if even that early) and pray we can retain enough information in order not to bomb the final and go on with our lives. So how can I do that in a more practical way you ask? Here are some of my top 10 tips on how to make the most of dead week cramming, and things you can do beforehand that aren’t as painful and help ensure you have a successful week.

Take home your distractions over Thanksgiving break.

Unless you plan on staying in your apartment/dorm over the ENTIRE 6-week break and don’t plan on going back home to see your family at all before spring semester starts, this might not be ideal for you. But for those of us who will be traveling back home after finals, here's an idea: take all of your non-educational electronics home over Thanksgiving break.

My roommate told me she was taking her tv home so it would already be there for Christmas break and so she wouldn’t get distracted by 5+ hours of Friends during finals week. I thought this was GENIUS and began wondering why I don’t do the same as well. Taking home your tv, Xboxes, fire-sticks, and any other device or distraction ensures that you, wait for it… don’t get distracted. Instead of turning on the tv for background noise and watching Netflix until 3 am, you have all this time to study.

If you can’t take it home, hide it.

If you aren’t planning on going home, or you aren’t able to physically take your stuff with you, hide it. Better yet, get your roommates to hide it from you and hide their stuff in return. By doing so, you don’t have the objects staring at you all day teasing you, and if someone else hides it in a safe location that you don’t know about, it isn’t haunting your thoughts and you can focus better on the tasks at hand. And if it is too heavy to physically move, then hide your remotes, wires, or anything easily accessible that powers off the device until finals are over and you’ve regained your freedom.

Create a “student” profile on your devices.

I know that having Netflix and Hulu auto-logged into on my devices means that I watch twice as much as I would if I had to retype the password. And quite frankly, since it has been so long since I’ve had to log in, I’ve forgotten my passwords. So, instead of logging myself out and regretting that after finals are over I’m locked out of my shows, creating another profile on my computer saves me from this torture.

For most computers, when they are first turning on and being logged in, there are options for other profiles and for guest access. By creating another profile and keeping all of my school related things on it, I no longer have to overload my desktop by trying to sort out what is personal and what is school/work related, because they are both in separate spaces. This not only helps with organizational skills but since you are not auto-logged into any streaming services, it keeps you from going on a Netflix binge the night before that huge Bio final.

Leave your devices in other rooms.

I know that I can’t go anywhere without my phone. It’s not that I physically can’t because I forget it and lose it all the time, but it is so convent and it makes me feel safe to have it with me. Therefore, I’m not going anywhere without it. But, with that being said, I know that this is one of my biggest daily distractions. However, a way to overcome this is to simply place it somewhere nearby but not too close.

If I am studying at home or in a study room at my apartment complex, I will just leave it in another room in my house or leave it in my room while I’m in the study room. And if I am in public and I don’t have that luxury, I will leave it in my car or put it in a pocket of my bag and zip it up. Out of sight, out of mind right?

Put your devices on “Do Not Disturb” Mode or let them die.

Going unplugged is nearly impossible, and if you are afraid of leaving your phone somewhere and it gets stolen, then put it on “Do Not Disturb” mode. This is one of my favorite features on my iPhone, especially when I’m in class or just want some time alone. All messages are received so they will be there when you check your phone, but there is no noticeable noise or vibration, therefore not disturbing you. However, all incoming phone calls will go straight to voicemail, so don’t forget to tell your mom about it so if she calls, she won’t freak out and think that something has happened to you. And if you are currently on the device, do not disturb does not go into effect. But any device you aren’t using to study like Kindles, iPads, etc., hide them, hide their charges, and let them die. It won’t kill them and therefore you have no way of using them anyways.

Don’t start new Netflix series over Thanksgiving break.

While I love Grey’s Anatomy as much as anyone else, I highly don’t recommend starting a new series while on break because that will be all that you will want to do during dead week and finals, and that is just a receipt for failure. And I don’t recommend restarting something, even if it is the 12th time you have watched it. Just take a pause in the series and enjoy turkey time instead.

Or do start one.

Yes, I know this contradicts what I just stated a moment ago, but hear me out on this idea. If you don’t know what to do over the break, and you are just dying to have some Netflix time, go for it. It's a free week off. And by that 2nd full day home, your parents are gonna get on your nerves and you’re going to need some you time. But, keep in mind that you’re going to have a lot of work to do over the next two weeks. So treat yourself now in order to work hard the next week. Start new series that are short, like Riverdale, 13 Reason’s Why, etc. and make sure to finish them before you come back campus. If you binge a series and finish it before returning, yes it is still on your mind, but there is nothing more you can watch, so you’re stuck in this lost stage like the rest of us after finishing a show.

Get all of your study materials during the break.

No, I don’t mean notes and study guides. I mean your notecards, highlighters, energy drinks, food for the next few weeks, k-cups for your midnight Keurig use, and anything else that you might need to power through the next two weeks. The more stuff you have access to, the less time you have to spend trying to find an energy drink at 2 a.m. or fighting for that last pack of notecards at Walmart the day before your final. Yeah sure, you might run out and there is no way to know for sure how much you will need until you start studying, but take a wild guess and double it just to be sure. Whatever you don’t use, you have for next time or you can return and get some money back. That way you have all of the supplies you need, and you don’t have a reason to not start studying. Sounds like a plan and your studying self will thank you for those extra red bulls at 3 a.m.


Now, this may sound like a chore, but you will thank yourself later for it. Don’t spend too much time or thought into it either. Just simply write down what exam you have on which day and what time. Then prioritize your studying. If you have a Spanish exam on Wednesday at 2, but a Psych exam on Monday at 4, plan on studying for Psych way before studying you Spanish stuff. Yeah, I know this sounds like common sense, but it is amazing what a little pre-planned organization can do in a time of stress. Also, prepare to have a messier room than normal because you probably won’t be leaving it unless it is for food or to move somewhere else to study.

So take the weekend before you leave or right when you come back and do a major clean and organize everything so that it is not a mess growing on top of a preexisting mess. Finally, if you know that you have an A in Psych, but a C+ in History and really need to do good on the final to get a B, spend more time on that class than the other. It’s okay to focus more on one than the other if you feel better about it and you know that you are doing well in it. Organizing is a lifesaver people. Trust me!


Sleeping is one of the most important things for our bodies, and having a week to purely rest before a stressful two weeks is even better. As college kids, we never sleep. Like ever. And that’s totally cool. But when finals roll around, you bet that we sleep at least half of what we normally do, which we’ve already discovered isn’t very much. So spend this Thanksgiving break relaxing, resting, and most importantly, catching up on your sleep. You know you will be pulling all-nighters soon. You know you won’t be exercising and eating right like you normally do. You know life is about to get crazy, so use this time to your advantage. Sleep sleep sleep! Get the best sleep of your life so when you come back, you are well refreshed and prepared to take on hell week.

Now I know that we are not going to be doing all of this before finals, just like I know that I’m not going to study during Thanksgiving even though I tell everyone I will. But just keep these in mind because I promise you, these 10 simple tips can be a grade saver. And just by doing a few of these, they will help you focus better on the weeks to come.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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