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It’s Finals Season: Study Tips

It’s Finals Season: Study Tips
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We have all reached the end of Fall semester and felt the temptation to start our Christmas shopping. Our motivation to study is further dampened by colder, shorter days, which makes it difficult to stay focused and productive. Yet, we know we must finish off the semester strong! Here are several tips to bring out your inner book worm and get you energized, focused and ready to ace those finals.

1. Plan out your studies

We are all guilty of having books, papers, and supplies scattered all around our rooms and even all over the house, not just driving ourselves crazy, but our families and roommates as well. Prioritizing is extremely important. It is good to keep a journal or calendar, where you can highlight your assignments and the order in which you need to have them done by. Feel free to go crazy and use as many sticky notes, highlighter colors and other organizational supplies to stay on track. The sooner you are organized, the easier it is to dive into your work.

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2. Stay focused

Staying focused can be difficult, especially with all the social media we have access to. I personally find it helpful to avoid logging onto social media while working. It is always tempting and can free our minds a bit from the stress of finals, but social media should be what you turn to during your break, not so much while you are working. If you can, keep yourself logged off Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and millions of other applications while you are studying. Yes, knowing how your friends are doing is important, but not while trying to write a twenty page paper or studying for an exam, everyone can wait.

3. Stay energized and hydrated

It is important to stay hydrated and energized while working. If you want to avoid running around the house like a crazy person, I suggest having some water and snacks with you in your study space, so you are able to sit for a while and stay productive. Staying hydrated and eating food will help you focus, think and avoid feeling tired. I do not suggest eating unhealthy snacks, since those take away your energy, but rather some fruits, vegetables, crackers and nuts. Avoid sugary and greasy foods if possible.

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4. Study space

It is very important to find a space that works for you. I am the “sit on a pillow on the floor” kind of person, even though my desk is literally a foot away. Everyone works differently, but it is up to you to find out what works best. Depending on whether you enjoy working alone or with others matters in the location you choose. The good thing about libraries is they have quiet study spaces, as well as social ones. The good thing about coffee shops, is they allow you to feel focused with others around you being productive. Space is crucial, so choose wisely.

5. Timing is everything

I personally work better at night. My best work is always written from 9 pm-midnight. Everyone is different, however, and it is up to you to find a time of day where you feel your best ideas kick in. If you are someone who works during the day, but that time period is where your mind is the most energized, find a time during your break to jot down your ideas so you can come home and put them into writing. We all have obligations and cannot always work on school work when we want to, but it is all about the preparation process to get those ideas on paper.

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6. Study break

Sitting around a computer or just sitting in general is never healthy. Of course, it is important to focus and not become distracted (as stressed earlier), but it is important to take a brief pause. Instead of staying on the computer, take a walk, listen to music, take a quick nap, anything you would like. It is important to take mini breaks here and there, to avoid fatigue and writers block.

7. Get enough sleep

You are all probably questioning this study tip since finals and sleep do not go together. However, it is crucial to have enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is not only unhealthy but dangerous. I’m not going to go into the science of it, but it is necessary to sleep. It will help you stay focused, work more efficiently and stress less.

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8. Take a break

Unlike a study break, I actually mean take a break. Plan some time for yourself to go out or to spend time with family and friends. It is not healthy to keep going and seclude yourself from daily life. You should still make plans to get your mind off your work for a couple hours to a day. There is always something to do, whether it’s a long walk or jog, sharing a meal with someone, leaving town for the day, etc. Make plans and stick to them, do not panic and cancel, because we all deserve time to get out and take a breath of air.

These are my study tips to you. Stay focused, determined and know you got this. Happy studying. And now, if you will excuse me, I have a paper to write!

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Featured photo credit: http://www.heysigmund.com/college-studying/ via heysigmund.com

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Nicollete Izakovic

Candidate of International Relations

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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