As we enter the last stretch of the semester, the looming specter of finals season can be a source of stress for many students. The temptation to procrastinate and cram is ever-present, but adopting a strategic approach to your study routine and overall lifestyle can make all the difference.
Here are five essential steps for success during this finals season.
Be realistic when planning your study schedule
The first step to take in studying for finals is to schedule your study time into chunks well in advance instead of the last minute. Utilizing tools such as Google Calendar, Apple Calendar or Notion can help you organize your time effectively and serve as a visual motivator to stay on track.
I like to color-code my subjects and tasks to create a clear visual of what I need to do to avoid the last-minute chaos that is very easy to encounter.
Dedicate spaces for studying and relaxing
While your bed might seem like a cozy study nook, designating specific spaces for studying and getting work done can make a huge difference in your productivity. For example, I make sure that I do all my studying and work at the library, Kofenya or even my kitchen table so that I can relax in a space such as my bedroom or living room.
According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, using your bed to study can limit your focus, decrease productivity and hurt your sleep. Your body will start to associate where you work versus where you relax, so having spatial distinction helps maintain your focus during study sessions and allows you to relax more during your study breaks.
Take social interaction breaks
Taking study breaks is a must, but not just any breaks — social breaks. It’s easy to get lost in your studying all day and keep yourself locked away in the library, but social interaction is vital, especially during this stressful time. Whether it’s grabbing dinner with roommates or giving friends and family a call, these breaks can significantly contribute to your mental well-being.
My roommates and friends like to take walks or eat dinner with each other as a study break, giving us all the chance to unwind for a little while and then get back to work.
Make time for you
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Amid all the chaos, making time for activities that help you unwind and recharge alone is crucial. You can do this by exercising, journaling, reading, meditating or simply watching a show you love — whatever allows you to decompress.
Personally, a trip to the gym serves as my sanctuary, offering both a physical and mental break. I’ll often venture off-campus to Planet Fitness in Hamilton, combining a workout with a therapeutic drive listening to music.
Fuel your body
Lastly, you need to fuel your body for optimal performance. A well-nourished and rested body is essential for sustained focus and energy during this final sprint of the semester. Finding the time and energy to eat balanced meals may seem challenging, but it’s a major step in effective studying.
When it comes to drinking energy drinks and coffee to help you stay awake, you can only drink so much caffeine before you’re running on fumes and putting in the bare minimum to your work.
Discipline in sleep patterns can be difficult, but by creating a schedule ahead of time, you can easily plan when to cut off your studying at night and when to resume once you’re well-rested in the morning.
In a research study conducted at Baylor University, researchers found that students who averaged eight hours of sleep during finals week scored higher on exams than those who got minimal sleep or pulled all-nighters.
Overall, finals season is not just about doing well on final exams and projects but also about maintaining a healthy and balanced daily routine. By being realistic in your planning, studying in the right places, taking breaks and prioritizing your overall health, you can navigate this challenging period with resilience and success.
Remember, it’s not just about surviving finals — it’s about thriving through them.
Halle Grant is a junior majoring in strategic communication with minors in marketing and journalism. She has been writing columns for The Student for three years and also teaches spinning classes at the recreation center.