Finals are just around the corner, but admit it: You can still be found watching “Honey Badger” on YouTube. Or 20 minutes of “Epic Funny Cats.” Or… well, you get the picture. Unfortunately, there’s no dependable correlation between increased productivity and a looming avalanche of projects, tests and papers. In fact, procrastination seems to thrive in the climate of a soon-to-be overbooked schedule.
It can strike at any moment, so prepare yourself to resist this finals season with these 6 tips:
1. Do it now. Start. Do something. Do anything. Skim for quotes in those readings even if you don’t have a thesis statement ready. Make flash cards for that bio test even if you have yet to meet with the professor so she can clarify what’s going on in Chapter 22. Any which way, you right now is not any more competent than you 24 hours before a deadline — he’s just less focused and committed.
2. Add sugar. Okay, so we’re not five anymore and candy doesn’t automatically make everything better. (Or does it? During spring finals 2013, a mysterious Hershey’s Kiss fairy brightened several people’s very late night in the library). But sometimes, all you need is a little incentive. So try placing a gummy bear at the end of each size 8 font paragraph in your American government textbook and watch where you wind up.
3. 45 minutes — that’s all. 45 minutes is the average productive attention span in an adult human being. After that — coffee and adrenaline aside — our productivity starts to plummet. So commit yourself to 45 minutes of work uninterrupted by texts, tweets, snack breaks, or experimentation with new hairstyles and get down to business. Then, no matter what you’re doing when the timer’s up, stop. Take a 15-20 minute break, repeat.
4. Ditch the zombie crawl. Sometimes, less really is more. When you find your bleary-eyed self staggering to the bathroom on a Sunday that you meant to volunteer as tribute for your grades, take a good look at that raggedy creature in the mirror and consider the kind of work she’s liable to produce. Go ahead, hit the reset button with a power nap or a brisk walk.
5. Switch it up. Research suggests that alternating locations and materials during a study session may better color your memory and cause you to recall more details. So test out Taylor Lounge one night, the top floor of the library the next and maybe even the caf. And when you do, bring more than one subject to work on.
6. Go with the herd. They say peer pressure is a bad thing, but as long as you can find a group who’s bound and determined to get stuff done in a location conducive to do it, make use of that impulse to not to be the only one without a rough draft by the end of the night. If nothing else, you’ll find comrades to commiserate with over the two projects that are due before finals even begin.
Of course, when all else fails, the internet still feels your pain.