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Seven Survival Strategies for Surviving Finals Week

We all know the struggle that life becomes during finals week. The hectic, crazy, chaotic mess of way too much to do, with far too little sleep on top of a malnourished diet proves to be a feat to tackle each and every semester. As a 26 year-old undergrad who has been taking classes since fall of 06, I’ve come up with some strategies that I use to help me make it through.

1. Get organized. It is absolutely essential for me to create several lists of work to be completed and determine based on due dates and personal interest the order of which I will start crossing things out. I have to see the big picture and devise a solid plan in order to not feel to overwhelmed to do anything.

FinalsSS-organization

2. Breaks. Study breaks are necessary. Regardless of how you spend your breaks, they are important to take. Sometimes the best ideas come to us when we remove ourselves from the situation and are doing some other mindless thing. It is also important to plan study breaks from which you can easily return to work from.

3. Eat. Your brain cannot function without carbohydrates. It is hard to maintain a well-balanced diet through the stress of a crazy finals week, especially when you’re broke! But making sure you’re getting nutrients to your brain is a must!

FinalsSS-nourishment

4. Exercise. I am a runner. I have to move my body and expel some energy in order to be able to sit and focus on work later. If you regularly exercise, it is important to keep to your routine, even if you’re feeling you don’t have the time, just do a short run or gym session. Our bodies need what they’re used to.

5. Incentives! Ahh, my favorite. You must reward yourself, and give yourself incentives for various tasks in order to make it through the big picture work. Mine looks something like, if I finish the body of this paper I get a glass of wine*. If I finish the paper, I get a glass of wine and an entire bag of Totino’s Pizza Rolls. So don’t forget to give yourself treats, you’re earning them!

FinalsSS-incentives

6. Fluid intake. You must drink water! There is so much to do and on little sleep. Keeping up on water intake is vital for staying healthy throughout finals week. Not to mention, if you drink as much caffeine as I do, water is important to balance the anti-diuretic-ness.

7. Jams. The right music is a must for me making it through finals week. I like to have a private dance party around my apartment with my ear buds in, blaring so loud I’m sure that when I’m 65 I will no longer be able to hear certain frequencies. I need certain pump-me-up jams at times to make it through. It has also been proven that listening to jazz or classical music while studying is more effective than studying with any other type or music or without music at all.

Good luck to you all this finals week! I hope some of these strategies will help you survive!

*Drink responsibly.

How To Survive Finals Week Without Going Completely Crazy

Finals week sucks. There’s no way around it. I’ve been through four years worth of finals weeks, and they always suck. That being, I have developed some strategies for making it a little bit more bearable. If you can spare the time from studying, let’s talk about how to get through finals week with your sanity in tact.

1.    Plan ahead. Don’t leave everything until the last minute. Look at your deadline and work backwards to make a doable schedule for finishing everything. Working a fair amount for a few weeks is going to be a lot less stressful than working yourself to death for a few days. Give yourself plenty of time to get everything done to try to minimize your panic. This has the added benefit of breaking up your work into manageable chunks. It’s a lot less overwhelming to think about the next thing you have to do than think about all the things you have to do. Giving yourself a plan will be good for your schedule and your sanity.

2.    Take regular, scheduled breaks. I always tell myself I’m going to take a break after I finish this chapter or whatever, but by the time I finish the chapter it’s 2:00 in the morning and I don’t have time for a break any more. Tell yourself you’re going to take a break every three hours or so, regardless of how much work you have finished. Then, actually take the break. I know you can get so caught up in the finals week frenzy that you think you can’t spare the ten minutes of break time, but your studying will be a lot more efficient if you’ve taken the time to recharge, and you’ll actually finish more.

3.    Make sure your break is relaxing. I know it feels unproductive to take a break, but don’t trick yourself into doing different work when you should be relaxing. Take a bath, go for a jog, veg out with some television, whatever, just don’t do something that is going to continue to make you anxious, like cleaning. Your break should be relaxing or invigorating, not taxing and stressful.

4.    Engage in physical activity. Get up and move as much as possible during your study time. Sitting still for prolonged periods is really hard on your body; it will distract you from studying, and it will lessen the quality of your sleep. Take the time to go for a walk, do some yoga, or do whatever physical activity you enjoy. This is a great thing to do during your scheduled breaks. Even doing a few stretches or walking around your room will make you feel more relaxed, healthy, and focused.

5.    Get a good night’s sleep. I know. I know. You have to stay up all night studying. The thing is, your memories don’t consolidate until you’ve slept, so it’s better to get less studying done and then sleep than to get more studying done without sleeping. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re less productive, you have less memory retention, your reasoning skills are impaired, and, let’s face it, you’re totally crazy. Get some sleep. You’ll feel a lot better, and you’ll do better on your exams. I promise.

6.    Don’t get caught up in competition. Okay, so we all know that guy. That guy who wants to talk about how he did so much more studying than you and he stayed up so much later and he made so many more flashcards. And then you’re like, man, I need to make more flashcards and stay up even later. And pretty soon you’re chugging down five-hour energies surrounded by huge stacks of flashcards, slowly losing your grip on reality. Don’t do that. Study as much as you need to, not whatever arbitrary amount will make you feel like you have suffered the most.

7.    Take the time to see some friends, but only ones that have a positive effect. Hang out with friends who are going to really relax you and help you unwind. Don’t hang out with anyone who is going to freak you out, or who is going to distract you from your studies too much. They can wait until next week.

8.    Try not to sweat it. Grades are important, but they aren’t worth your sanity.  Worst comes to worst, you get a bad grade. It’s not ideal, but it’s not going to ruin your life. Do your best, but don’t let yourself lose sight of what’s really important: your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. You can do it. Good luck.

Quick Guide: How to Schedule an Appointment

This Quick Guide will show you, step-by-step, how to schedule an appointment at the Writing Center. One-to-one appointments are the meat of the Writing Center (unless you’re a vegetarian. Then they’re the tofu of the Writing Center). In an appointment, a consultant will help you to improve and strengthen as a writer. Just follow this Quick Guide and you’ll be one step closer to becoming a writing wizard.

1. Go to http://writing.msu.edu/ (oh, hey! You’re here).

2. Click on the happy orange “Schedule an Appointment” icon in the top right side of the home page.

3. Register for the Writing Center scheduling system. Make sure that you fill in all of the required fields (because they are required). I recommend using your MSU email.

Register
4. Log in using the email and password that you just set up. Be sure to read the announcements along the right side of the screen. Sometimes they’re useful.

5. Select the location where you would like to make an appointment in the top center of the screen. Bessey Hall is our primary location, but during the fall and spring semesters we have satellites open in many of the different ‘hoods around campus.

Location
6. Choose an open appointment slot (white boxes) from the calendar that fits into your schedule with the friendly/hip/cool/smarty-pants consultant of your choosing.

Appointment
7. Fill out the appointment form. Make sure that your name is selected from the drop-down menu. Fill out all of the required fields which let us know what you want to work on so we can prepare to help you become a composition champion. Appointments can be up to two hours long in our Main Center, and 30 minutes to an hour in our satellites.

8. When you return to the calendar, your appointment will be highlighted in yellow.

9. You will receive an email confirming your appointment. If you have to edit or delete your appointment, please do so through the Writing Center website.

10. Make sure to show up  on time or else you risk forfeiting your appointment.

All done! You just made your first Writing Center appointment! Go take a victory lap and pat yourself on the back, because you’re a winner!