Carly Johnson, Consultant
I hope you all had a relaxing spring break, full of sunshine and unassigned leisure reading. As we begin this countdown to finals (and Derby) it is difficult to garner the motivation to begin your final projects. However, as someone who has spent many a tear-filled, coffee fueled night feverishly typing a final paper hours before it is due, I can tell you truthfully that it is better to start sooner rather than later. At this point you may be saying to yourself “yeah, but I work better under pressure” and I thought the same thing—until I embarked on what I call “Carly’s 5 fool-proof methods for staying focused and sane throughout finals week,” which I will share with you now:
- Take it one step at a time, and reward yourself along the way.I like to set up a schedule for myself prior to finals week that allows me to get a little bit done each day. When I am on a roll achieving these tasks, I reward myself by watching Netflix for a couple of hours, or purchasing a fancy smoothie. This enables me to stay on schedule while still allowing myself to have a little taste of the relaxation that awaits me over the summer.
- The solution to writer’s block is not avoidance.When I would get stuck on how to start a paper, I used to think that putting it away for awhile was the answer…and then “awhile” ended up lasting three weeks, and suddenly it was due. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. If you’re stuck, ask for help, either from your instructor, your peers, or by making an appointment with the writing center. Address these small mental roadblocks before they become big issues.
- There is such a thing as too much coffee.During my late night writing sessions, I always thought the more coffee I drank, the better my paper would become—but the fact is that too much coffee (or other caffeinated beverage) will make you jittery and will cause your thoughts to race, which will end up making you feel more stressed than when you started. By staying on task with the schedule mentioned in #1 above, you can avoid these all-nighters entirely.
- Feeling stressed? Go on a run.Even if you are someone like myself who only tends to run if there is an emergency, I have found that physical exercise allows you to drain yourself of that excess negative energy, and clears your mind so you are prepared to tackle those final projects. If running isn’t your thing, check out some of the classes offered at the Student Rec Center (I highly recommend the Zumba classes held on Tuesday and Wednesday nights).
- Reschedule social events for an after-finals celebration.If you struggle with turning down fun events with friend while you’re studying, plan an event for after finals week that you can look forward to. That way, when you pass on plans for the evening you can invite them to your post-finals party, enabling you to be social and productive simultaneously.
With these five methods, you can be sure to avoid the dark days of finals week, don your Derby hat and ease into your summer vacation knowing that you have overcome the pitfalls of procrastination. Good luck, stay focused, and remember that the writing center is always here to help!