One Step at a Time: Fit for finals

Fitness columnist Abbie Wenthe on avoiding the end-of-the-semester slump

We've finally made it to the one-week countdown to Thanksgiving break! Personally, I cannot wait to go back home to Iowa and get back on the farm with all the pigs and cattle. (Kidding.) Just to clear up any confusion that people may still have about the modernization of Iowa, we actually have pretty big cities complete with malls and Chick-Fil-A. I am desperately in need of a week away from college to reconnect with family and friends from home before I will be able to handle the slightest whisper about finals. The only thing softening the blow of a cumulative organic chemistry and biology final is the amount of pumpkin pie I will be eating this Thanksgiving.

As finals approach, it is so easy to shut down — mentally and physically — and give up before they have even started. However, we are all in college to succeed and perform well in our classes so we can graduate and pay off massive student loans. Finals time is crunch time and the time to really focus to earn those high grades we all want to see on myZou at the end of the year.

To earn those grades, organization and avoiding procrastination is key. I am one of those weird people who keeps everything written down in at least two different places just so I never forget about something. Nothing beats the satisfaction of crossing something off a list or deleting it from the computer. I forget what day it is half the time, so writing things down and planning is one of my best strategies. I have even gone so far as to plan out every hour of my day just so I can be sure every task will be accomplished. This also keeps me away from turning to Hulu instead of my textbooks when I have some extra time after a class.

At the same time, though, I am probably the world’s biggest procrastinator and procrastination has taken over every aspect of my life, not just school. I procrastinate working out, cleaning my room, calling my parents and even shopping. My Twitter bio once said, “I recently won the award for best procrastinator at Mizzou,” until I decided I should probably re-evaluate my life and realize that procrastination is never the answer.

So, one of the best things I have found on one of my many hours of procrastinating is SelfControl, an app that can restrict Internet usage and even certain websites for a specific amount of time. For those of us that have absolutely zero self control, this is quite possibly the best thing to come around since the invention of Facebook itself. Now I have Facebook and Twitter off my computer, but getting the willpower to turn my phone off or keep it across the room from me is an entirely new battle.

A few other strategies I am working hard to implement this finals season is planning to study at my most productive times. This tends to be in the afternoon or morning for me, because at night I become too distracted by the thought of my bed waiting for me after a long day. By studying in the afternoon or trying to be the most productive at this time, I can stay awake and get my homework done instead of cramming the minute before it’s due. Although, sometimes that feeling of submitting an assignment to Blackboard at 11:58 p.m. for a midnight deadline is the best feeling in the world.

Instead of pulling the journalist card and saying that I’m good at working on deadline and under pressure at the last second, I am trying my hardest to actually give myself enough time to prepare for a test or spend time on a paper to give it that extra edge. I become too stressed out and overwhelmed when I wait until the last opportunity and am working hard to be able to live a more stress-free life. That way, I'll be able to take advantage of all the perks of college before the semester's over.

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