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Amelia Milne / Senior Staff Photographer

We hate to break it to you, but we officially have less than ten class days left, which of course means that summer is just around the corner (yay!) but also that finals are fast approaching (boo!). We can totally understand if you’re feeling stressed and a little paralyzed just thinking about the workload. But if your study plan is to binge-watch Netflix and then pull a few consecutive all nighters in Butler, we’ll be blunt: That’s a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Instead, consider spacing things out a little this round by creating a study schedule. While we can’t guarantee success, we can promise you that with a study schedule, you’ll (hopefully) maintain better mental health during this trying season because you can at least rest assured that you’ve tried your best.

Make a game plan:

Get out your planner or calendar app of choice, and make sure that you have at least an hour on your hands, because we’re gonna be getting our hands dirty (don’t worry— it’ll save time in the long run). First, open up SSOL and click on the “Schedule” tab to find your final exams. Pencil (or block) those times into your calendar. Depending on how your exams fall, your prior commitments, and how you’ve been doing in each class, determine how many hours you want to study for each final, and pencil in study blocks accordingly. Finally, be sure to schedule relaxation blocks (at least 2 hours a day is ideal) because breaks are essential for maintaining your mental health, and for giving your brain time to recharge so you can focus during your next study session. If you’re using Google Calendar, consider creating separate calendars for studying, exams, and relaxation, so it’s immediately clear what you should be doing at any given point. Below is my schedule for a pretty busy day during reading week.

Michelle Zhuang

Michelle Zhuang

Hold yourself accountable

Now that you’ve got a schedule, all that you have to do is follow it! We’ve found that an accountability spreadsheet with number of hours you’re planning to study for each exam and the hours you have to study each day to make that goals works best for keeping us on track. If you don’t really vibe with spreadsheets, don’t worry—here’s one we made to get you started! Feel free to copy and paste it into your personal account and modify accordingly.

Below is a screenshot of a sample spreadsheet I made with all the fields marked out.

Strategically time your study breaks

During your study sessions, mini-breaks are essential to maintaining productivity. But there’s a science to timing them. If you’re planning to hit the books for more than a few hours, we suggest the Pomodoro Technique, which entails 25 minutes of studying followed by a five minute break, and then a longer half-hour break every two hours.

Alternatively, previous research has suggested that on average, the most productive people work for 52 minutes, and then take a 17-minute break, so consider experimenting by applying their schedule to your studying as well.

Take high quality mini-breaks

No matter the length of your breaks, what’s critical is making sure you return to the books once breaktime is over. If you’re using the Pomodoro Technique, we suggest eliminating the temptations of the internet and social media entirely in your five minute breaks. Instead, use the restroom, refill your water bottle, stand up and stretch a little, or chat with a friend if you’re studying together.

We also suggest setting a break time alarm because it’s all too easy to get lost on Insta or Reddit.

Tips for longer breaks

Grab a snack

During longer study breaks, make sure to keep that brain nourished by grabbing a meal or snack. A smoothie from The Diana Center Cafe, boba from Café East, or a snack from Butler Café or Brownie’s should fit the bill. Since it’s been so warm lately, we think frozen treats are especially perfect, and suggest reading this article for even more study snack inspo.

Get moving

Getting the blood flowing is a great way to keep energy levels high, especially if you’re feeling a little tired. For the go-getters here, we suggest wearing your gym clothes to the library and maybe squeezing in a run as a break if you’re planning on hitting the stacks for more than a few hours. If you can’t get in a full workout, small exercises like jumping jacks and wall sits in the stairwell can also help keep your activity levels up during finals season.

Take a power nap

Cramming a semester’s worth of information into your head can be exhausting, so we suggest grabbing a quick 15-to-25 minute snooze at one of these nap-worthy locations.

Go outside!

Lately, the weather has been warm and sunny. As a result, Low Beach and Butler Lawn have really been poppin’! To get your daily dose of vitamin D, consider doing some lighter reading on Low Steps, or better yet, combining this tip with our last one by taking a nap on Butler Lawn. Who knows, you just might get a head start on that summer tan.

Staff writer Michelle Zhuang can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

Studying Finals Schedule Accountability Break
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