While your head may be on the holidays, you first have to survive the rigor of finals week. As the fall semester draws to a close, you need to start studying sooner or pay the price later.
You know that cramming and pulling all-nighters don’t help you retain knowledge for long. However, if you work or attend to family responsibilities — or both — while attending school, you have a tight schedule. Here are nine ways to find a study-life balance and stay sane as finals approach.
1. Reorganize Your Notes
One of the best ways to create study-life balance while gearing up for finals is reorganizing your notes. The act of sorting refreshes your memory about things you learned way back in August — and since forgotten.
What if your notes are a jumble of handwritten post-its and those you jotted down using a phone app? If you have a mix of electronic and print sources, seek a free scanner app so that you can upload handouts and written pages to the web. Then, you can organize them in one electronic whole and get highlighting.
2. Create Daily and Weekly To-Do Lists
If you try to keep track of what you need to do using mental power, you will set yourself up to fail. Why? When you get exhausted and overwhelmed, it’s natural to forget even the most important dates. You might even create false memories — you knew your paper wasn’t due until Friday until you saw your classmates turn in their work on Monday.
Get a planner or use an app and end each day by writing a to-do list for the following morning. Create a rough outline for your week on Sunday night. You’ll feel satisfied as you tick off each item, plus you won’t have to rely on fallible memory to get your final project submitted on time.
3. Schedule Breaks
You might think scheduling breaks sounds counterintuitive when you’re slammed. Don’t you need to use every minute?
In reality, your brain works more efficiently when you give it a break. Structure your study schedule around the Pomodoro method. Set a timer for 25 minutes, and when it goes off, take a 5-minute break.
If you start studying now, you won’t have to give up every Saturday night to hit the books. Try bribing yourself — if you are prone to procrastination, remind yourself that an early start means time to unwind with friends between writing essays.
4. Talk to Your Employer
Your college experience is an investment in yourself, but a highly educated workforce also benefits your employer. As such, they should give you some leeway come crunch time.
Consult with your immediate supervisor and reduce your hours as finals week approaches. Explain how your study-life balance enables you to give 100% on the clock and prevents stress-related mistakes.
5. Get Into Meal Prep
Your body and mind share an intricate link. Numerous studies suggest an association between the intake of some nutrients and cognitive performance.
However, the drive-thru sings a sweet siren song when you feel time-pressured. An hour or two a week of meal prep can provide healthy freezer delights that zap in seconds during study sessions.
6. Move Your Body Daily
Exercise, likewise, can boost cognitive performance. One study of over 2,000 individuals revealed that those who exercised for a year earned higher scores on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and Mini-Mental States Examination.
Find something that you love. Sometimes running helps calm the fight-or-flight reflex if you feel overwhelmed by it all. Dancing requires no gym membership — crank your fave tunes and boogie.
7. Be Selective With RSVPs
Which one of Torquemada’s minions declared finals week to fall amid the hectic holiday season? If you work, attend school and raise a family, you could feel triple-slammed with demands and invitations.
Learn to be selective when you RSVP. While it’s wise to attend your company holiday party and appear at your in-laws’ annual bash, you don’t have to say yes to every get-together.
8. Use Your Campus Resources
Who said you have to study in a vacuum? You can find socially distant study groups at nearly any higher education institution now. If there isn’t one to suit your schedule, consider creating one.
Likewise, don’t shun the library, even if you have a health condition that increases your infection risk. Many schools let you virtually check-out materials and pick them up curbside, no contact necessary.
9. Let Go of What You Can’t Control
With winter on the way, free your inner Elsa and sing, “Let It Go” to factors you can’t control. If 3-feet of snow makes it impossible to get to the library, seek out supplementary study materials online. Consider it a boon for study-life balance — now you don’t have to waste time driving.
Keep your grade fears in perspective. A single “B” probably won’t result in a lost scholarship or denial of your law school admittance. Try your best, but don’t let one grade crush your confidence.
Achieve Study-Life Balance as Finals Approach With These Tips
It’s challenging to maintain your study-life balance as finals approach. Use this guide to stay sane and ace your exams.