1. Make a list. Make a very detailed list organized by due date and include spaces set aside to allow yourself coffee breaks. Draw your own boxes for check-marks, color code it and draw hearts around the place you allow yourself to take a nap. Then make copies so you can have one on your bedroom wall and one in your notebook and one in your bathroom, so you can never take a relaxed breath until everything that’s on it has been checked off.
When you’ve finished making your list, congratulate yourself on a job well-done by pouring yourself a strong drink (or helping yourself to something sugary, or something greasy, or whatever your vice of choice is), and put on some really stupid TV. The stupider the better. Sit-coms are good, reality shows are better and game shows are best of all. Feel free to then ignore the TV and read a book involving dragons.
2. Put it off until the last minute. Well, don’t actually do that if you can help it, but if you just happen to be one of those people who manages to procrastinate on every assignment, and maybe you thrive under pressure, if that’s the case, then getting it all squared away in as brief a period of time as possible, might be the best way to go. Actually, this can sometimes yield the best results. Saving that paper or studying for that exam until the two days before class, means that you have to hyper-focus, but you’ll need to remember to take frequent breaks to re-energize. Study in as many locations as possible, and when you’re stuck on that difficult passage, read it aloud or talk it over with a friend. After you’ve finished, put it away for a few hours, and then come back to it with a fresh set of eyes. You’re done. Houlà.
If you’re like me, you’d then enter into a session of self-deprecation, telling yourself, “This cannot happen again!” But knowing me, and knowing you (if you’re like me), this isn’t going to happen, so you might as well be prepared for getting it done at the last possible minute.
3. Blast the right music. Sometimes the chatter of a packed computer lab, or incessant shenanigans of drunk roommates can make studying for finals a distracting, annoying debacle. On the contrary the numbing silence of a desolate library floor, might also cause your thoughts to race around so much, it might prove to be a bigger interference to your studies then your sloshed roommates! However putting on an appropriate playlist can sometimes magically lift your mood and grant you focus for the task at hand. The best music to fill a room during a study session are usually songs with atmospheric or ambient qualities. Keep the tempo slow, so you’re not anxiously tapping your feet, but make sure it has a distinct sound to keep your mind alert and sharp. It’s really hard not to feel relaxed, focused and oddly determined when you’ve got some classical jazz filling the room.
Avoid playing songs with lyrics because they can lead you to believe that singing along might speed up the progress of your writing or studies. It doesn’t. But hey, if belting out a guilty pleasure track in an empty house also helps eliminate some end-of-the-semester stress, who am I to tell you to keep quiet.
4. Things are getting a little overwhelming. You’ve got a powerpoint presentation due tomorrow, and three final papers are ominously looming over your head that you haven’t even done the reading for. There’s only one escape from the ensuing madness of meeting deadlines and making excuses: sleep. At least when you’re asleep there’s a break from stress. Take a nap and you just might wake up with a refreshed mind, ready to tackle any intellectual hurdle.
5. Pray. Let’s be honest, some of us aren’t going to make it through finals week in one piece. All of our classes this semester were laid out for us in syllabi on day one, and we thought we could pull it all together, but things are looking a little bleak. We sent out our “please, professor, I promise I’m not a terrible student” emails out months ago and haven’t made any progress since then. We’ve probably spent most of our free time watching Bob’s Burgers and organizing our email instead.
Alright, I might just be talking about my own experiences, but I know I’m not alone. At this point in the year the best option might be to bite the bullet. Focus on the work you know you can get done, and do it well. You might not be able to complete all your work this way, but you’ll be able to pass a class or two. Write a letter to your future self about how terrible the end of the semester is and hope you don’t do it again next winter.