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These Tips and Tricks Will Help You Ace Finals

Finals are right around the corner, filling us with nightmares of failure and unwritten essays. With all this worry and fear comes stress that can sometimes leave us incumbent in bed watching hours of Netflix as we ignore our responsibilities. Over three days of Thanksgiving Break, I’ve already finished The Office for the first time, watched a Christmas movie, watched a Cinderella movie, and read 100 pages of a book that has nothing to do with school. This is avoiding work and procrastinating at its finest.

But I’ve decided to buckle down for the remainder of the weekend, and looked up ways to turn my procrastination into motivation. So if you find yourself in a schoolwork slump, check out these tips!

Write a list of everything you need to do

Then categorize it. Separate the things that need to be done for school, such as homework and studying, from the things that need to be done in your personal life (cleaning, grocery shopping, and so on). After doing that, prioritize each category by what needs to be done first; do you have a test in two days, but a homework assignment due that night? Do the homework assignment first. Making a list and prioritizing what needs to be done will make everything more manageable, streamline your attention, and give you a sense of satisfaction when you can check off each item.

Determine how much time you have

Gather all your schedules and put them into one. Whether it’s work, school, clubs, family functions, or time with friends, figure out when everything is happening and write it down in your planner, type it up on your calendar, or add it to your weekly schedule. Then add your traveling time to the schedule, as it will give you a true sense of the time you actually have to spare. When that’s determined, then look at your To-Do list and determine how much time you need to spend on each item, and then add everything into your schedule. This way, you’ll feel the need to work on stuff rather than thinking, “Oh, I have to do this today,” and choosing to watch TV instead.

Clean Your Room

Decluttering your workspace means your less focused on the mess around you and more focused on the work in front of you. Just having a clean area for work gives you the motivation to work, and enables you to spread out everything you need for your essays or exams. Additionally, having a clean room makes you feel accomplished and removes stress in other areas of your life.

Play Music

This doesn’t mean blasting music through your speakers so loud your housemates can hear it downstairs, instead play music at a softer level, like a fourth of the way up the volume scale. Having music as background noise will drown out other noises without drowning out your thoughts. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t turn it up for a dance session to remove your stress every so often!

Use scents to help you focus

Peppermint is one of the best scents for concentration. I have an aromatherapy diffuser, and every time I want to study, I put in a few drops of peppermint essential oil and as the scent fills up the room, I notice my concentration levels change. It’s the weirdest thing, but it works! If you don’t have an aromatherapy or essential oil diffuser, a peppermint scented candle would work. And if you don’t have that, a mint beverage like tea or peppermint hot chocolate, or even a mint would work too!

Drink up

Set the alcohol down and pick up water or water-based beverage instead. When we’re dehydrated, exhaustion sets in, making it harder to find the motivation to do anything. According to familydoctor.org, water “Helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. If you’re not hydrated, your body can’t perform at its highest level.” While being hydrated doesn’t necessarily mean you have to drink water 24/7, it means that you should drink when you’re thirsty. While water is the best beverage for your body, herbal teas are great too, or drinks that are low in sugar but have caffeine (this means you, coffee lovers). However, too much caffeine can make people jittery and prevent concentration, so it’s best to stick to between 2 to 4 cups of coffee.

Decrease Distractions

You’re probably thinking, “There’s no way I could do that,” but removing your phone from the equation means that you won’t feel the need to respond to every text you receive. Just checking your phone could lead to a one-way ticket to Pinterest or Instagram, so shutting it off for a set amount of time gives you the ability to dedicate all your attention to the work at hand. Another thing to try is creating another user account on your laptop or computer, and then using parental controls to block out all procrastination websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, and anything else. That way, you’ll only be able to go onto the sites that you actually need to study and do research. When you’re done with your homework, you can just log back into your original account.

Envision the Future You Want

Picture yourself with your diploma in hand, and remind yourself why you’re doing all this. If you take a moment to acknowledge that this a step along the path to achieving your dream, then everything you need to do will seem minuscule in comparison to the final goal.

Do whatever helps you, and don’t forget to take breaks to reduce stress. Exams will be over in two weeks, and then a month of holiday spirit will lift you off your feet! 






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Lauren Lewis


Lauren Lewis is a fourth year at the University of Cincinnati double majoring in International Affairs and Creative Writing. When she's not on Pinterest fawning over recipes and crafts, she's drinking copious amounts of chai tea, finding the hidden treasures of Cincinnati, and shopping for inexpensive books at Good Will. 
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