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With finals looming over all our heads, I figured it’s a good time as the semester starts to come to a close to come up with a plan of attack. How are we setting ourselves up for success? How can we be a well-oiled machine once that fateful week of exams arrives? I’m looking to head into the next month with a clear head and a clear set of goals, so I’m encouraging you to do the same. See below the tips and tricks I’m taking advantage of as December nears: 

  1. Cheer yourself up with some holiday decor

This might seem super unrelated, and it just might be. However, I’ve always found that making my room as cheerful as it can be makes me more willing to enjoy long lasting study sessions that I spend in it. I don’t always want to treck to the library. Having a room that makes rest and work happen in a jolly and peaceful spot is ideal. So, I plan on heading over to Target and picking up a few necessities toward that end: a balsam candle, maybe a little christmas tree, or some string lights. I also will definitely be playing holiday music as I get ready in the morning or wind down at night. Why not bring a little peace to our minds and sprinkle some more than usual holiday cheer into finals this year? 

  1. Stock up on school supplies 

Step two is similarly materialistic, but getting “stuff” gives us the added serotonin boost that we need as finals looms over our heads. I find that having a new arsenal of highlighters and fancy pens just makes it more fun and satisfying to do the necessary marking up notes or jotting down to-do lists. I’m all about the study aesthetic, and stocking up on supplies at Staples might just give you the motivation you need to get a jumpstart with your schoolwork. 

  1. Check your mindset and harness some mindfulness 

Mindfulness is something I know I need to tap into as the colder and more stressful days approach. Keeping track of your mood and mindset, and making sure you’re on a positive track sounds cliche, but it really is so fundamental to the success we have everywhere else. You’ll need a clear mind as you tackle that 8 page exam or that research paper. Ways I love to check on myself mentally are keeping up with therapy, journaling affirmations and mind-dumps daily, and meditating in the mornings. I don’t always check every one of these “mental health boxes,” doing these practices regularly helps me make sure my motivation is where it needs to be. I can’t take care of my studies if I’m not taking care of myself. 

  1. Self care – sleep, skin care 

Before we get to the real school stuff, I also want to put an added emphasis on self-care in this last month of the semester. As we all know, self care doesn’t just extend to face masks or retail therapy. I count getting enough hours of sleep, making your bed, and fitting in your basic skin care and shaving routine at the end of a long, strenuous day. More than just taking care of yourself physically, I find that these tasks give you that good feeling of getting something done, checking something off the list. Keep track of the basics and then spring out into everything else. Control what you can control. 

  1. Plan, plan, plan 

To finally get down to the school aspect of it all, my biggest tip and something I’m certainly implementing myself is planning ahead. This might seem obvious, like knowing when things are due or when exams are, but I mean when you plan to start things, where you should be on certain assignments on certain days. Get into your planner and use highlighters, do all that fun stuff. But, focus on what smaller steps you need to take, and by when, to get to your desired final products on assignments. Planning has a big rep but I find that being more incremental about my plans, and thinking about the steps, helps so much. 

  1. Start early and do a little bit each day 

This goes hand in hand with the step above. Doing a little bit each day is the only way my brain can master info for an exam. Space out your studying and you’ll help yourself in the long run. A basic but necessary tip. 

My name is Julia Cloppse, I am a second year at UVA and I'm from Staten Island, New York!