Semesters are like marathons, and we’re in the middle of the worst of it.
We’ve run off the adrenaline we had at the start, but we’re not far enough to catch sight of the finish line that will help us push through. There are a few thoughts to keep in mind, however, which will help you stay focused without frying your neurons or flunking your classes.
Try to remember that this is your least busy week of the rest of your semester. You probably think this week is already busy enough, but at some level, you all know it’s only going to get a lot worse before you turn in that last exam. There is a fixed amount of work that you have left to do, but a shrinking block of time in which to do it. The only thing you can control is how you use that block of time. Giving yourself this visual reminder can help you use the most recent shavings off that block wisely.
In Oswego, the end of the dreary winter feels like the end of an era, but despite the new season, the old semester is still with us. It only makes it that much harder to keep focused.
But you can combine both your studies and the outdoors by bringing your books outside. Just make sure your chosen spot isn’t too busy with people, wildlife or Lake Ontario wind that could distract you or scatter your notes.
If the temptation to start enjoying all your summer plans still persists, allot yourself short breaks in which to plan what you’ll do after the semester ends. You may have noticed – and studies have confirmed – that much of the enjoyment people get out of something is anticipating it. Use this to your advantage by waking up your brain with these short study breaks.
Most importantly, you need to know what your academic goals are, and find sources of motivation necessary to make the end of the semester a successful step toward those goals.
Fear and adrenaline are powerful motivators. Make them work for you. Review your transcripts and CV, and compare them to people who are doing the thing you aspire to do. Follow their blogs, learn about what filters they needed to pass through. Are you awesome enough to get there too? Can you really afford a C in Calculus this semester? If not, there is still time to turn things around.
These last few weeks can be what determine whether handing in that last exam feels like crossing a finish line, rather than an opportunity to slump into bed. Summer vacation is far sweeter when it feels well deserved. Keeping the sweetness of that post-semester feeling in mind can help make the rushed flow of these next few weeks make sense in your head.
Fear and picturing the feeling of success are two powerful sources of focus, but for many of us, there’s a third key source: eliminating distractions. If you’re hooked on social media, try installing Self Control for Macs or Freedom for PC’s – programs that will block any website you choose for a chosen length of time. Make sure to do a force refresh to block out content from other sites on your blocked sites by holding shift and then clicking the refresh button.
You could also try to make 24-hour spreadsheets and mark down when you’re productive and when you’re not. Seeing all those waited hours on your timetable can really help you realize how much underutilized time you’ve got.
We’ve only got four weeks of class and finals to go. Now is the time to picture the finish line in your mind and run toward your goals.