No matter where you are in the country, you probably have about a month–give or take a few weeks–left in the school year. This, for most of you, should feel like a relief. No matter how much you like school, by the time the end of the year comes around, school itself is so exhausting that pretty much everyone is in need of a nice, long break.
But, that, of course, is also a bit of a problem. For whatever reason, as soon as the real, actual promise of summer comes along, the idea of doing schoolwork seems next to impossible. This is less than ideal, given that most of the stuff you have to do towards the end of the year–final exams, final papers, final projects–are among the most important things you have to do, like the whole year. So, while it’s easy to fall into a slump and let the final month of school just sort of play out by itself, it’s pretty essential that you, uh, don’t do that. The solution? Up your productivity. (It’s not as hard as it sounds.) So, check out these easy (ish) ways to actually be productive during your last month of school:
1. Set small personal deadlines for yourself:
Have a big paper due on the last day of school? Don’t make that date the only deadline you’re going by. Instead, set smaller deadlines week by week for yourself–one week to get a thesis statement done, another to do an outline, another to work on the body paragraphs–and stick by them. This makes the whole thing seem less intimidating and easier to approach.
2. Remember that doing something is better than nothing:
This isn’t a good mindset to have, like, all the time–it’ll basically ensure that you’re always getting C’s–but if you’re really in a slump, it can be helpful. The hardest part of doing your work, usually, is getting started, so if you start off with a small effort, you’ll probably find that the rest of the work you have to do won’t seem as intimidating.
3. Try the Pomodoro studying technique:
A lot of people swear by this method, since it’s supposed to increase efficiency and effectiveness with minimal effort. Give it a shot! Even if you’re just trying a new study technique, you’re getting in some extra studying that you wouldn’t have done otherwise.
4. Eat the frog:
AKA get the “worst” thing you have to do done first. (“Eat the frog” comes from this quote from Mark Twain.) This way, you get over your scariest, least-fun hump, and the rest of the work you have to do won’t seem as bad.
5. Look into productivity apps:
They’re not fun, but they get the job done. Self Control can help you block distracting websites (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) on your computer, and apps like Forest will prevent you from playing on your phone while you’re trying to get stuff done.
6. Have a friend change your social media passwords:
You don’t have to do this, obviously. But when I was in school, my best friend and I would always change each other’s passwords on social media during finals week so we couldn’t get on it, no matter how much we wanted to. Of course, if you’re committed to being distracted, you will find a way to do it, so this isn’t a cure for everything. Still, it was really helpful for me, so it might be worth a shot for you, too.
7. Maintain your planner:
Don’t be the kid who misses a final exam because you thought it was on Thursday, not Wednesday. You don’t have to do anything fancy, but write down all of your deadlines and dates for your final exams, and make sure you’re checking up on them periodically.
8. Use study groups:
Or a study partner. You don’t even have to be studying the same thing! Sometimes being around someone who’s studying too can be really helpful–it helps prevent the act of studying feel as isolating as it can be if you’re by yourself. Just make sure you don’t pick someone who you know will be distracting for you.
9. Make sure your studying area is pleasant:
Now is not the time to be slumming it! You don’t need to spend a ton of time meticulously cleaning your study area, but if you spend, say, twenty minutes clearing out junk and ensuring that it’s well-lit, you’ll feel a lot better about studying in general.
10. Plan out your entire week:
There is something oddly satisfying about planning out an entire week at a time–plus, it can help you be more productive overall, since you’ll have a day and a time for doing everything on your to-do list.
11. Or by the month:
If you’re really gung-ho about planning things ahead of time, you can plan out you whole month–use the chart above as a template.
12. Learn how to use your breaks effectively:
You’re going to need breaks at some point. Check out the graphic above to learn how you can actually benefit from them (and how you can prevent one “five minute” break from spiraling into a three hour long nap).
13. Write daily to-do lists:
No offense, I am a to-do list addict. When you write everything down, it helps make the vague, terrifying feeling that you have so much to do in so little time slightly less terrifying, and, besides, there is nothing in the world that is more satisfying than crossing things off the list one by one. Give it a shot! Even if you’re not usually a list person, they can be really helpful during the frantic last month of school.
14. Take care of yourself:
I know that this is something that is easier said than done. But if you’re maintaining a regular sleep schedule, eating well, showering, and maybe even squeezing in a workout here and there, you’ll find that it’s easier to focus on your work and get things done.
How is the end of the school year treating you? Do you have any productivity tips to share? Let us know in the comments!