Getting Through Finals
By Divya Balendra and Bhargavi Venkat
A short while ago we did an instagram survey asking people for their most effective study and self-care tips, just in time for finals season. In this article, we have compiled these tips for your easy access.
Pomodoro + other studying timers
It can help to have a structured way of studying so that we focus and concentrate to get our work done as effectively and efficiently as possible. Timers and techniques such as Pomodoro really aid in this. Pomodoro is a technique that separates studying time into 25 minutes of focused work and 3-5 minutes of break. Apps (ex. Focus Keeper - Time Management) and chrome extensions (ex. Marinara: Pomodoro Assistant) will help you use this method! However, this might not work for everyone so feel free to experiment with other study methods like the 80/20 rule, GTD method, RPM, and Flow State.
Study in the morning/optimal time for you
Studying in the morning can be very effective if you are naturally an early riser and like to get work done in the peace and quiet of the early hours. Nevertheless, this time is not suitable for everyone so it’s best to experiment. The key thing is ensuring that you get enough sleep so that you’re not staying up too late or waking up too early, especially on test days.
This is a critical study tip for online learning. It’s easy to get stuck within 4 walls while staring at our computer screen for hours on end but this blurs the line between studying and relaxation. Creating a physical divide between these areas can help in putting you in a mindset suitable for either work or play. This can be done by switching rooms when working or if that’s not possible, just moving away from your desk when doing something other than work.
Create a good atmosphere
This again has to do with making the best out of your workspace so that you’re in the right mindset for concentrated studying. This can be simply accomplished by putting on some calming music that won’t distract you or playing nature sounds through a chrome extension like Noisli. You can also have an essential oil diffuser near you for some pleasant scents.
This is just a general tip to remain focused. Distractions can be anything from your phone to video games but the important thing is that they are out of reach while you do work. This can be done by physically moving them somewhere hard to reach or simply turning them off.
Independent vs Group studying (identify what’s best for you)
There are benefits to both independent and group studying and which one works best depends on the individual and the subject which you’re studying. For example, it can be really useful to quiz friends on subjects like anatomy after you have already done some independent studying. On the other hand, doing practice tests for chemistry might be better done individually. Figuring out what style works best is only possible through experimentation, so try out both for different classes and types of assessments to find a good fit.
Study scheduling ahead of time
This is a really good idea when studying for finals because it can seem like a really large and daunting task to get started on. So, strategies like time blocking might allow you to plan out and organize your time more efficiently. It might also help to just brain dump all the concepts you have to study for into a big list and organize it according to priority so that you have a study plan to follow.
Screen breaks + other breaks (20-20 rule)
Your eyes can get very tired if they’re constantly staring at screens and this can lead to headaches. Some people opt to use the 20-20 rule; for 20 minutes of screen time, have 20 seconds of time completely away from screens. It’s also important to schedule breaks in between study times to eat, get active, and talk with family/friends to allow you to destress.
These items help you be more efficient and make the study space more comfortable, allowing you to study with more ease. These could be adjustable chairs, desks, and monitors, or a mouse and keyboard that are designed to prevent awkward postures and hand strain. Click here to learn more about these items: https://www.cnet.com/google-amp/news/ergonomic-office-equipment/
Healthy food and water/drinks
It’s a great idea to prepare meals in advance when you have many classes or exams coming up so that you feel recharged and not overwhelmed thinking about food amid a busy schedule. It’s also important to have quick snacks ready to go and to be hydrated when you’re studying. Make sure that these food items are healthy, because sugary and carb-filled foods can further make your studying less efficient. Include these sugary snacks as a treat after a long day!
Natural light in study space
Natural light allows your eyes to visually relax and maintains natural shades in colours. Having this allows you to be more active and reduces fatigue from long periods of studying. If natural light isn’t attainable, use ambient light with cool hues (blue and white) during the day for maximum productivity. Use warm hues (red, yellow) at night to avoid sleep disturbances.
Schedule time to have fun
As important as it is to schedule breaks, it’s also essential to schedule time to have fun. By having the time set aside, you don’t get distracted, and you prevent burnout. Potentially, every week, set aside a few hours to spend time with family, friends, or partake in a hobby!
When having a busy and soul-sucking schedule, it can be hard to feel grateful and happy. Writing periodically in a gratitude journal increases positivity, improves self esteem, helps you destress and sleep better, and ultimately makes you more productive. Click here to get started on a journal yourself: https://www.101planners.com/gratitude-journal/#Free_Digital_Gratitude_Journal
It can be easy to push aside physical activity when you’re busy with school, but consistent physical activity can help you focus, improve your mood and reduce stress. Even if you cannot dedicate a lot of time to workout or partake in sports, set aside 10-20 minutes for an at-home workout, or make an effort to move during your scheduled breaks (walk down the stairs, do a few jumping jacks). Check out this link to see 8 short at-home workouts: https://www.self.com/gallery/8-very-short-workouts-you-can-do-in-your-living-room-right-this-minute/amp
Be aware of your capabilities
With school and extracurricular activities, it’s easy to string yourself out too thin, and this can make you overwhelmed and more stressed. Make it a habit to plan ahead of time, make lists of your existing tasks, say no when needed, and not feel guilty.
Be kind to yourself
All these tips mentioned above point to a simple piece of advice; you are most important and you have to take care of yourself. You’re working hard, you’re making accomplishments and you deserve breaks and time to destress. Don’t sell yourself short!