Avoid procrastination meltdown — quick, easy tips to a breezy finals week

John Nickerson, a sophomore sociology major, demonstrates what not to do during finals week. Procrastinate less, plan more and tackle small tasks to achieve the highest grade possible.

Eric Bomysoad

John Nickerson, a sophomore sociology major, demonstrates what not to do during finals week. Procrastinate less, plan more and tackle small tasks to achieve the highest grade possible.

BuzzFeed has a list of the “25 Friends You Make at College,” but they left one off of that list. Its name?


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve logged into Facebook before writing a paper, just to check my notifications, and end up creeping on people I don’t talk to anymore. Three hours later, I’m looking at pictures of someone’s dog on an Instagram account I don’t even follow, with just a heading typed out. At least it was a strong heading.

Or how about when you plan to watch just one episode of a show off of Netflix? One time I watched an entire season of “The Office” until 3 a.m., the night before my philosophy exam, which would have been fine if watching Michael Scott shout at his employees as “Prison Mike” helped me with knowing about Nietzsche and the social contraction theory. It absolutely did not.

My best friend even wrote an entire 20-page paper the night before it was due by simply rewarding herself with a glass of wine with every typed page. After two bottles of wine and no sleep, she finished, but the next morning was gruesome.

Many of us have created a college career off the notion of “Due Tuesday, Do Tuesday,” finishing papers 30 minutes before handing them in. While procrastination may get you a finished product last minute, the amount of stress, tears, and pressure you could have avoided is worth planning ahead. With finals week coming up, it’s important to take a deep breath, focus, and remember you can do this, if you follow these necessary steps to avoid procrastination.

Plan Ahead

Olivia Tomczak, a tutor from the Kenmore Huntington Learning Center, said the most important thing for students to do is plan ahead. She said you need to have an agenda, set up a timetable, and be in constant communication with your teachers about due dates, progress on papers and deadlines, and to make sure you start your work early.

“Start studying now,” Tomczak said.

Divide and Conquer

According to Daniel Todd, a freelance writer for recruiting website CollegeView, you should spend a few minutes thinking through everything that needs to be done, and then try to divide the task into various smaller pieces. He said it’s much easier to tackle smaller portions of an assignment than one huge task.

When you cram an entire final paper into one night, your brain is in overload, and your paper may not be nearly as good as it could be. So divide the paper, write it in three to four days, and you will find that it wasn’t as difficult to do when you spaced out the time.

Work for Rewards

According to Tomczak, it is important to reward yourself while studying or writing a paper, so that you associate getting work done with something fun. Perhaps study three chapters and then take a break, chat with a friend, listen to your favorite album for a few minutes, or buy yourself a drink or snack. Do stuff that won’t keep you completely side-tracked (or impair you, like my wine-drinking friend), but are nice little incentives for finishing that section off your paper or those last chapters.

Set Priorities and Make Lists

According to the Carroll College Counseling Services website, organize everything that needs to get done, and make a list, putting the most important task at the top. It’s important to focus on one thing at a time. When you look at the list as a whole, you may panic or stress, but gradually crossing off items will allow you to breathe easy and get through finals week.

This ties into Tomaczak’s notion of planning.

The key to surviving finals week is planning ahead. When you put things off to the last minute, that’s when you start to feel the pressure. Just remember, as attractive a friend as procrastination is, it is not a true friend, and you need to leave it behind.

Good Nutrition and Sleep Patterns

“Getting at least eight hours of sleep a night is crucial,” Tomczak said.

It’s hard to avoid late night cram sessions, but your brain needs a break, and so does the rest of your body. Tomczak noted you also need to eat a healthy, balanced breakfast to kick-start you in the morning. As long as you set aside time to study, sleep, eat, and plan out a schedule, you will not fall victim to procrastination and its evil ways.

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