5 Tips for Getting Your Finals Motivation Up, Because We're All Struggling Right Now

Finals are looking a little different this time around, but being unable to study on campus with friends can't stop you from kicking ass and saying "peace out!" to a COVID-occupied fall semester. We're all struggling to finish strong, whether we're constantly distracted by furry friends, home-cooked meals, or family and friends. The good news is that, in my experience, the best ways to stay motivated can be transported with you to your home away from campus. Here are the top ways to end this semester with the best finals performance possible, sending you into the new year with a BIG sigh of relief!

  1. 1. Create a beautiful, designated study spot!

    Desk with computer, plants, and office supplies

    I don't know about you, but I fully believe in the power an organized space has on my mental health. The best way to stay focused on studying is to first take the time to claim an area for your work! It can be a favorite room in the house, the back porch, the desk in your room or even the local coffeeshop, so long as you make it so that there are zero distractions. By allocating a special place for your physical self, the best-possible-version of your academic brain can fully function, and help you complete your schoolwork with ease!

  2. 2. Set a schedule, and STICK TO IT!


    It's easy to come home from school and fall into the "summer break" rut: sleeping in, going out, and procrastinating like crazy. Don't let it happen! Set an alarm for the weekdays, early enough to get good work done with freetime after, but late enough to get good sleep and feel rested. After waking up, get out of bed quick and get in the habit of making it up all nice and neat. Get ready for the day as if you were going to an in-person class, including making a good breakfast, and head over to that study space we talked about earlier. Section your time according to the finals you have to study for, and don't overwhelm yourself by trying to do it all! Stick to 1-2 hour periods per course, and take scheduled breaks to give your mind a rest.

  3. 3. Work hard, play hard!

    woman wearing black shirt eating popcorn

    Of course it's important to actually spend time studying, however you don't want to exhaust yourself! By waking up early and setting a schedule, you can allocate nights to being with friends or going out (COVID-friendly, obviously), or even just having a movie night to yourself with a big bowl of popcorn. The "play" part of your day comes with a guilt-free satisfaction; you've done your work for the day and you're allowing yourself time to relax. You deserve it!

  4. 4. Find a friend to do it all with you.

    Photo of people at work putting their hands on top of each other

    No matter how you approach finals season, it's always hard to do it alone. Even if your college friends are away, find someone (at home, or remotely!) to keep you accountable. Try linking your schedules and checking in to see how the other is doing with their studies! Without them becoming a distraction, let your friends push you and relax you to keep your mind sharp but not overwhelmed. I know for me it's even helpful just to receive a "what're you working on today?" text. My friends push me to keep working during this season, mostly teasing me with all the fun we can have once we're all done! We're all in this together.

  5. 5. Reward yourself!

    person holding a remote control pointed at TV streaming netflix

    When all is said and done, college students are human beings too. We need to be rewarded for our hard work! While some may find the satisfaction in the completion of finals, others may really want to celebrate. After the semester, take a couple days to not check emails (wow!), not auto-navigate to your blackboard bookmark and disconnect from the academic side of the world. Take a breather, stay out late, sleep in. And in the process of studying, take miniature breaks like these to keep yourself going strong. Reward yourself with your favorite candy or snack after an especially tough round of Quizlet or watch an episode or two of the show you're binging after writing or planning an essay. It's important to keep in mind that you deserve the little pleasures in all this stress!

No matter how you choose to study for your final exams, it's important to realize that the ending of the semester is also a chance for a breath of fresh air. To truly stay motivated, know that there is an end in sight to all this craziness and stress. Incoporating a few (or all!) of these suggestions will hopefully help you ace your exams and come out of fall 2020 with a clear head, happy professors and an empty calendar. Happy studying, and remeber to take care of YOU first!