The secret doesn’t lie in a nifty app that blocks your access to distractions. It doesn’t lie in your ability to focus hardcore during the week preceding finals. Nor does it lie in your intense all-nighters, complete with sugary energy drinks and a plethora of tasty snacks. The secret to staying productive during finals week—and beyond—lies in establishing habits that won’t wear out. Here are a few practical tips to keep your productivity in tip-top shape.
1. Utilize your free time.
As a public relations student, you’re probably rolling your eyes, thinking, “What free time?!” However, as you’re walking to class, taking a work break or waiting in line, are you using your spare seconds well? Resist the temptation to Instagram your picture-perfect latte or Snapchat your girlfriend. Instead, use these opportunities to make a quick phone call, read over a study guide or catch up on your daily news.
2. Make lists.
Those who claim not to be “list people” can put themselves at a disadvantage. Making lists not only helps you prioritize your tasks, but it also gives you a visual reminder of your workload. Plus, lists keep you accountable for what you do — or don’t — get done at the end of the day, making it harder to blow off your final paper for a Netflix marathon.
3. Take breaks.
Humans have limits. When you try to push past these limits, you don’t become superhuman, you become super exhausted. Instead of wearing yourself so thin you end up with a thermometer in your mouth and a bowl of chicken noodle soup on your desk, give yourself little breaks. For example, for every 60 minutes of studying, allow yourself 10 minutes of video games, Pinterest-perusing, praying, journaling or however you best decompress. Bonus hint: Make sure to set a timer so you don’t forget to buckle down after the break!
4. Set your hopes on the light at the end of the tunnel.
Give yourself something fun to look forward to at the end of your studying struggles. This could be anything from setting your phone wallpaper to a photo of home, surprising your best friend at work with her favorite candy or planning a post-finals fiesta with your friends. This glimpse of the future will help you remember that while studying is crucial to being a stellar student, ultimately your value doesn’t come from your exam scores.
What’s your favorite way to keep productivity high when motivation and energy are low?
Laura Daronatsy is a sophomore journalism-public relations major at Biola University. She serves as the managing editor of her university’s student newspaper, the Chimes, and is an active member of Biola PRSSA. Follow her on Twitter @LauraDaronatsy or connect with her via LinkedIn.