In light of the new Incredibles film coming out this summer, I couldn’t resist the reference. Hopefully the quote already creates a positive vibe concerning the word “finals,” because this period of the semester shouldn’t be likened to a catastrophic event. The use of “finals” will never cease, but the perception of the word can be changed to something positive.
Finals can be compared to a track race. Your goal awaiting at the finish line is the completion of every project. Personally, I don’t wish anyone to slowly inch across the finish line, crawling and utterly exhausted. Envision crossing the finish line standing, alert, confident, and pumped for an ensuing celebration (with plenty of treats)!
Invest in a strong finish. Below are some suggestions you can implement to assist with a smooth completion of the semester. Above all, do your best!
Go to a favorite haunt. Put yourself in an atmosphere you know you would be most productive and away from distraction.
- If you need to hole up in your room, do it! Outside? Go to a park or a table in the Mount’s Quad. The Mount’s library, as well as local libraries, such as Delhi Township and Green Township, have quiet study areas. The restaurants Panera Bread and Aromas Java & Gelato are also both great locations to study as well.
Make yourself comfortable!
- Sweatpants, jeans, shorts, t-shirt, whatever you need.
Have all the source materials, and anything else you can/will need, within arm’s reach.
- Textbooks, notebooks containing notes from classes, syllabi, laptop, note cards, pens, pencils, etc. You’ll feel more comfortable, and less distracted, knowing everything you need is within reach.
If you need others around you to focus, seek out a study partner.
- You don't have to be completely isolated. Your peers are also completing final projects, and perhaps they would like a study partner to keep them accountable, too. Keep yourself and another accountable, be productive together.
Everyone organizes in their own unique way, and maybe you don’t even label yourself as an organized person. Regardless, there are steps all can implement to ensure a smooth completion of all your final projects.
Prioritize your projects by their respective due dates.
- Write each final task with their due date on flash cards, sticky notes, a piece of paper, a list app on your phone, a drawing board, etc. This extracts the seemingly millions of things to do from within your mind to some external outlet, and ensures you devote proper time to projects that are most pressing. Also, when a project is completed, you can physically cross off, check mark, crush, burn, etc., when you complete it. The catharsis of such actions are mini rewards in themselves.
ADD SOME COLOR!
Avoid any negative reading or any other media. Act positively! You’ve almost finished the race!
Use colorful letters!
- Use pens or pencils of your favorite colors. On your computer, write drafts in your favorite color, and when you’re done, just change it to black!
- Print out a favorite meme or photo of a favorite person or location in color to cheer up your study space. Maybe write out some favorite, positive quotes, too. Change the background on your laptop and phone to something peaceful, motivating, or just darned cute like a baby meerkat.
Devote some time to your creative outlet.
- Read, doodle, journal, watch an episode of your favorite show, or even chat with a friend online or on the phone.
Like listening to music when you study? Create a fun, motivating playlist. Maybe even connect it to the subject.
- I often listen to Indiana Jones soundtracks when doing history homework. Figure out what music makes you pumped for a certain subject!
FOOD AND WATER ARE MUSTS!
You can’t expect to run a long race on little fuel. This is the long run. Ensure you are properly, fully fueled!
Stock up on foods/drinks you love.
- You don’t have to wait until after finals to get treats. Give yourself permission to buy some food and drinks you love.
Go out to a favorite restaurant for a meal.
- It’s a reward you can easily allow yourself to have, because you need to take breaks and you need to eat.
Stay hydrated with plenty water.
- You are basically a water creature, keep yourself from drying out!
SLEEP! DON’T BE A ZOMBIE.
Studies advocate getting 6-8 hours of sleep every night.
- You can make an exception for finals, but aim to at least get several consecutive hours of sleep each night. Try to go to bed around the same time and awake around the same time to keep your body in a healthy routine. However, should inspiration strike and you find yourself up late, by all means, keep going! When you find yourself struggling to concentrate, make sure to pause and go to bed.
Take a short nap.
- Sometimes a 15-30 minute nap is worth it. It’s better than wasting just as many minutes trying to concentrate when your body needs a brief respite.
DON’T BECOME A STATUE, TAKE REGULAR BREAKS.
It’s just like at work. You want and need breaks to be more effective. Just don’t reward yourself with a certain show you know will steal hours of your time. Limit yourself to your personal “black holes.”
Take a break every hour or so. It’s a mini reward for doing homework for hours!
- Blood flow is key to the best brain function. Do some light exercise, like go on a walk, do some stretches/yoga, etc.
ONE STEP AT A TIME.
Take each final project in stride. Alternate between projects by devoting blocks of time to each class every day.
- Don’t turn your brain into mush by bogging yourself down trying to get a five-page paper done in one sitting.
DON’T OVERTHINK YOUR PROJECTS.
- Look over the syllabus and assignment descriptions again. Stay focused. Don’t overthink, just git ‘er done!
CELEBRATE! (yes, even before the finals are done)
Recognize that by this point, you have completed so much. Celebrate that and use it to power you to the finish!
- Prime yourself to view finals as a positive time. The reward of completing the semester smoothly, well rested, and confidently is worth it! Finals still may seem intimidating (I know. I’m a senior), but realize that you have to move forward. Accept that you have all this stuff to do, but recognize you can do it! Be motivated to achieve completion of the race with flying colors. Fight and win!