You are so close to going home and getting some well-deserved rest, good food, and enjoying general merriment. But between now and then, a single-minded approach is the best so that you can finish strong.
- To finish this semester strong, you need to FOCUS. Turn your attention in a single-minded way to your academic work. Exclude everything else. And I mean everything. Between this moment and the moment you leave for winter break, put everything out of your mind other than your coursework. Forget about the complicated, draining complications of friendships and love and anything else that is pulling at you. This is a moment in your life when you must dedicate all of your energy to being a student. People will understand. Just tell them you need to finish strong, and they will get it.
- Get out three pieces of paper, or create a Word document (landscape orientation) or three tabs on an excel spreadsheet. Each page is a week. I have led many students through this exercise using pencil and paper, but electronic docs work well, too.
- Indicate on your document the deadlines for all of your work. When are the final exams? When are the papers and other assignments due?
- Note what time you will go to bed every night in order to get 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Add your class time to each week.
- Approximate your breakfast, lunch, and dinner times on each page. Do not leave more than 30-40 minutes for each meal per day.
- Now you can see how many hours you have left to write papers, study for exams, and complete any other assignments you need to hand in before you say ta-ta to this semester.
- Given the hours you have left, start inserting hours for studying and writing. If you are the sort of person who works better when you have large blocks of time for writing, be sure to pay attention to that. If you work better doing an hour of studying per course per day, find that time in your schedule.
- I recommend going to each of your professor’s office hours at least once in the coming week to talk about ways to focus your time on the most important things – or to discuss your paper topic. You can email each of them right now to find a time, if you do not know their office hours or can’t find them on their websites.
- If there are any deadlines you will not be able to meet, talk to your adviser or your professor IMMEDIATELY. Depending on the policies at your college, this may mean reaching out to a dean or a professor or both. Be sure to look up how to request extensions!
- Let your family, friends, and significant others know that you are entering a time of focused attention on your work, and you can’t wait to spend more time with them over the break or in the coming semester.
Being single-minded in your approach to the end of the semester will mean that you will feel good about yourself, knowing you did the best you could with the time you had left. Your grades will also show the time you put in. There is a third benefit – knowing what it took to finish strong may encourage you to start this process earlier next semester. Because there is no doubt that the energy you put in is directly proportional to the satisfaction and the grades you get.