Believe it or not, after seven weeks of Zoom classes, finals week is here. But unlike the usual finals week on campus, there will be no packed libraries and late nights at the HUB; instead, Penn State students are taking finals at home. And for those of us who don’t do well studying in that kind of environment, VALLEY has some tips to help keep you focused.
Make your bed
Whether you’re working in your room or not, making your bed in the morning is a great way to make your day productive from the moment you wake up. 82% of people report that completing a small task in the beginning of the day helps them feel productive throughout the rest of their day, according to CNBC.
Make something to eat
If while at college you were the type to rush out the door with only a granola bar in hand, why not take the time to make a proper breakfast at home? This can motivate you to get out of bed in the morning, as well as help you feel energized to complete your work.
Create a designated space to work
Choose an area of your home to work in, preferably not an area where you like to relax. If you choose to study in your bed, for example, your brain associates that area with non-work-related activities, which can lead to procrastination. Since you can’t be in the “Harry Potter Room” at the library, find somewhere else that’s quiet and strictly a place for studying. Set up your materials on a desk, kitchen table, countertop or whatever you can find that allows you to be organized with no unnecessary clutter surrounding you.
Change out of your regular “quarantine clothes”
This may not be for everyone, but if you’re struggling to focus, try switching up your outfit for the day. You might be less inclined to relax on the couch if you swap your sweatpants (no matter how much you don’t want to) for something a little more “put together.” Whether this be leggings and a T-shirt, jeans, or even a dress, wear something that tricks your brain into entering “studying mode.”
Put the phone away
This one’s hard. If you really want to get some studying done, don’t bring your phone with you — no matter how badly you want to scroll through TikTok. One way to study is the “Pomodoro Technique.” This technique, which involves repeatedly working for 25 minutes with a five-minute break, is a helpful way to work effectively without multitasking. Having a structure like this can help you stay focused on your task as the timer ticks down, resisting the urge to stray away from your work.
Take a break
Moving your body and giving your brain a mental rest is crucial. Some of the many benefits include: helping you retain information easier, staying focused over longer periods and solving problems quicker. Instead of taking out your phone for a break (since it can be hard to put down), why not try going on a walk — weather-permitting — to move your body? After sitting for so long, moving will help get your blood flowing and your brain recharged.
No more headaches
Zoom University has us glued to the computer even more than before. To prevent any headaches from happening, purchase a pair of blue light glasses that block the blue light radiating from your computer screen, which has been known to cause discomfort and pain.
There are plenty of playlists on Spotify that are designed to help you focus and block out any possible distractions in your house. However, if you enjoyed studying for finals at Saint’s Cafe downtown or the bustling Starbucks in the library, there are videos online with background noise to transport you to your favorite State College cafe.
Check out our VALLEY-approved, staff-curated quarantine study playlist here.
Charge your computer and check your WiFi
Nothing feels worse than taking a test and having your computer die halfway through. Make sure everything is working properly before you take your exam — it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Reward yourself (you deserve it!)
In a time like this, it’s important to have things to be excited about — no matter how small they may seem. Having something to look forward to, whether it be simply watching another Netflix episode, a FaceTime with a friend or game night with your family, can really help make the studying process go by quicker knowing that something fun is just around the corner. Staying productive and accomplishing your work will make that “reward” feel all the better.
VALLEY wishes everyone good luck on their finals and a happy summer!