6 Time Management Tips for Finals Week

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December 10, 2015

First off, I feel obligated to say that I have absolutely not been using these tips nearly as much as I should be (oops). Usually, I'm very good about staying on top of tasks and motivating myself but procrastination has been hitting me hard these days. I only have two exams left, one next Tuesday and one on Thursday, but my very last one (organic chemistry) will be a doozy. SO I've started using these strategies to keep me on task with everything I have to do!

+ Split all big, scary tasks into teeny, not-scary tasks. Specifically, take vague tasks and try to make them more concrete by splitting them into individual, specific tasks. I especially like to narrow everything down to tasks that will take at most an hour at a time. For example, instead of telling myself that I have to "study for chemistry", I can split that into the tasks of reviewing notes, redoing problems missed on old exams, doing practice problems and doing a practice exam. Each of those sections can even be narrowed down even more by chapter. This method really helps me not to get overwhelmed by huge tasks by taking things one baby step at a time.

+ Be disciplined in getting rid of distractions. I feel like this is one of those easy-peasy helpers that I know I should do...but for some reason I never do. But I know that getting rid of distractions always makes me more productive. Maybe that means blocking social media and certain websites from your computer, deleting apps on your phone (or turning it off altogether) or even going somewhere else so you're not constantly tempted by the cookie dough in your fridge (and by you, I mean me). I use a great extension for Chrome called StayFocusd. I can block a list of websites for a given time (bloglovin, facebook, pinterest, etc) or go in "nuclear mode" and turn off all internet for a time. It's really helpful to force myself to get away!

+ Staying healthy is the best way to make sure you can use your time productively. I have a friend who gets sick every single semester right before finals week--it's natural! We're stressed, we're probably not taking very good care of ourselves, so naturally our body gets tired and our immune system just can't keep up. But once you're sick or super tired, none of these tips above will help you. Keep your health up by exercising every other day, eating regular healthy meals (no skipping! no late night chocolate/cookies/pizza!) and SLEEPING eight hours a night as much as possible. Y'all. I'm serious. Sleep does not make you lazy. Sleep is a glorious thing.

+ Keep a positive mindset. Sometimes my biggest stumbling block is that I'm horrible at dealing positively with my own failures. If I make a study plan and get distracted and behind, I actually get angry with myself. I get upset and frustrated. But then, I spend so much energy getting mad at myself that I don't have any left to work on that thing that I was supposed to be doing! It becomes a negative cycle. This can alllll be prevented just by reacting kindly to whatever happens. If you don't do as well as you had hoped on something, it's okay. Take a deep breath. You can't change the future but you can keep it from messing up the rest of your day.

+ Build in regular breaks. I aim to take about 15 minutes of break after every 45 minutes of work, but if I'm doing something particularly unpleasant, I might even make that 10 minutes of break for every 30 minutes of work. You can fiddle with it and try to find a ration that feels good without getting lazy. But the trick to this is that you have to be ruthless in the timing. It's just as important to force yourself to take your whole break when it's time as it is to make sure you're working hard during your work period.

+ Take intentionally relaxing/fun/rewarding breaks. When you do get to your break periods, I highly, highly recommend that you not spend it noodling on facebook unless you just really enjoy that. Most likely, it'll feel like wasted time and you'll want to take an even longer break. What I do recommend: reading, coloring, meditating, (sometimes) Netflix, cleaning, cooking, etc.

What are your time management tricks? Any finals tips? Fellow college bloggers/blog readers, come say hi!

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