Finals season is upon us. People are already looking tired around campus, and it's not even reading week. Before we get to the messiness of a finals schedule, let's come up with some practical ways to survive the season. If you’re anything like me, self-care is the last thing on your mind during finals. Sleep feels like a distant memory. Eating real food takes too much time, and coffee becomes all eight major food groups.
And if you’re anything like me, finals normally wreck you. It takes two weeks just to get back on my feet after I’m done. But during the spring, I promised myself that I would create structures to help me get through finals. Here are some of the things that worked, and that I intend to practice during this finals week.
1. Save your rewards.This is absolutely a game changer. I get coffee all the time, and I normally use my rewards as soon as I get them. I’ve started to save all the free coffee I earn and all of my gift cards for reading and finals week. This way, when I’m way too tired to even think about making coffee at home, I don’t feel guilty about a regular trip for coffee because it’s free!
2. Put your best foot forward.Yes, it sounds superficial, but if you don’t look good, you won’t feel good. So, wear or do something that makes you feel confident. You and your lucky shoes got this!
3. Plan your downtime. Having time commitments that weren’t finals used to really throw me off, but this time around, I have two weekend events – just enough to make me feel like I’m having fun, but not enough to overextend me. After those two events were solidified, I turned down everything else.
4. Plan your breaks.I often go to the library for huge chunks of time, and I never think about when I’m going to take a break. Which is unrealistic. Writing down the times that I’m going to take a break gives me something to look forward to and it makes me more productive because I know what has to get done before my break. I use the Pomodoro technique on smaller tasks – which is where you work for 25 minutes and get a break for 5 minutes. Or, you can just extend these time limits.
5. Find ways to make test-taking fun. I don’t care who you are, cumulative exams are THE WORST. So make them fun. I use a glitter pencil, and one time a friend brought body glitter to our final so we could harness as much light as possible. I use playlists to help me remember themes, or color coded drawings.
6.. Pay attention to your body. My sleep is more important than anything else, because my sleep keeps me stable. If you’re so tired that you can’t stay up, there’s no point in studying anymore. If you’ve had too much caffeine and you can’t sit still, go for a walk. Don’t ignore what your body is telling you!
7. Remember that no one has ever died from a final. The worst that could happen is that you have to retake the class. It’ll be okay.
Remember, we've got this! (And if you have any really great ideas, you should share them!)