The end of the semester is a stressful time of due dates, final exams, papers and presentations for students as well as faculty. Deadlines are fast approaching and you realize that you only a week left of the semester. You may have three presentations, four papers due and a final exam in every class during the last week of school, and you wonder where the time went. Stress can sometimes get the best of us, but it is vital to keep a list of suggestions handy so that you can stay on top of all of your due dates.
Focus on What’s Important
The best thing you can do to end the semester is to focus, focus, focus!
“Focus on doing the important things; don’t get sidetracked,” said Dr. Barbara DeSanto, professor of communication. “I psych myself up by saying that I only need to sit in my office chair for 30 minutes to get started. Once I’m started, it’s easy to continue.”
While it may be easy to get sidetracked, it is important to stay on task so that you do not have to rely on pulling an all-nighter to finish your assignments. Lack of sleep contributes to illness, something that you do not want to have to deal with during finals week and winter break. Also, it could make you miss your final exam if you suddenly crash or sleep through your alarm on the morning of the test.
Make a Master Calendar
One suggestion might be to make a calendar or some sort of checklist to keep yourself on schedule with your long list of assignments and also to remind you when to return your rental books back to the University Bookstore.
“Make a master day-by-day calendar that has the due dates of remaining projects,” suggests Dr. DeSanto. “Work backward from each due date to schedule the pieces that make up the “big” project/paper and stick to doing those pieces on the days you have assigned them. You eat an elephant one bite at a time.”
Adhering to the calendar on a day-by-day basis can also keep you from feeling overwhelmed with everything at once.
“Sometimes I remind myself that I just have to get through today. Thinking ahead can sometimes overwhelm me,” said Dr. DeSanto.
Keep a copy of this master calendar in your folder and on your desk in your room. That way you will be able to find it easily so you can always know which assignment is due on each day and it can help you keep from procrastinating.
Budget Your Time
“Don’t procrastinate!” said Peyton Bond, a sophomore. “I did that last semester and I was screwed!”
Procrastination is something we all may be guilty of at some time or another, but as easy as it may be to fall into it is important not to procrastinate because you do not want to save everything for the last possible minute. Saving things for the last minute damages the quality of the work and may tempt you to plagiarize, which is something that will get you in trouble.
Use your master calendar to plan out what you want to finish and when you want to do it. Making a list ahead of time and adhering to the schedule will help you finish everything BEFORE it’s too late.
Organize Your Workspace
Your calendar will be a great tool, but if your desk is messy then how will you be able to find it? Sort all of your course materials into a pile for each class. Also, keep some extra paper, pencils, highlighters and Post-it Notes handy to jot down quick notes about assignments.
Since most professors utilize D2L, it may be helpful to create a folder on your desktop for each class with final project directions, study guides and class notes. That way you will be able to easily access the information for each class, separately, so that you won’t feel overwhelmed.
You can still get distracted even if your workspace is clean. Remember this is a time to get homework finished and that summer break will start in a few weeks. While it may be easy to get distracted with friends and family coming back in town, remember that you will be able to talk to them more after finals week.
Only check your email a few times a day and stay off of Facebook and Twitter, huge time wasters. Also, maybe turn your cell phone on vibrate or on silent if you are studying. Let family, friends and your significant other know that during these last few weeks you will be studying and completing assignments and won’t be available to talk as much.
While studying is important, it is also important to get away from the books and notes for a few minutes. Taking breaks are important to help refresh your mind and relax your body.
“Allow some time to let your mind and body rest,” said Dr. DeSanto. “Build in breaks. Coffee and chocolate are great stress-relievers for me, as it petting my cat.”
Doing exercise, drinking lots of water, eating snacks high in protein and meditating are all good break activities that can rejuvenate your body and help focus your mind on the rest of your work.
These suggestions are just some of the many ways that can best help you prepare for the stressful end of the semester. Focusing on the important things, making a master calendar, budgeting your time, organizing your workspace, eliminating distractions and taking breaks are all good suggestions for just finishing up your course requirements but also realize the other benefits of ending the semester on a good note.
“Remember why what you are doing is important,” said Dr. DeSanto. “Important might mean anything from passing a class to that feeling of satisfaction that you really worked hard on something.”