Survival Strategies for Finals Week

Thanksgiving break has finally arrived, giving us all some much-needed time to relax and unwind before finals week. With only a few weeks left in the semester, I would like to share some survival tips to successfully make it to winter break. Each of these tips are exclusively featured in chapter 6 of A Guide to Professional Development: For Graduate Students in English. I highly recommend this book, as it contains many helpful tips and words of advice that can enhance your graduate studies by revealing the hidden agenda within higher academics.

The chapter focuses on the multiple stresses of graduate school, one of the most prevalent being time management. Time management is a skill that one needs to learn, practice, and master, as each level of academia or employment requires it. However, it isn’t explicitly stated within a syllabus or job description, as it is a skill professors and employers want you to understand and demonstrate on your own. Trying to manage academic workload, such as extensive readings, research, and writing, along with social commitments, a job outside of school, and different relationships can gradually take a toll on your time, energy, and nerves. This subsection focuses on “the two P’s,” procrastination and perfectionism, and how both can create unnecessary stress and become time and energy wasters. In my undergrad years, especially in the last semester of my senior year, I started to procrastinate almost every assignment. At the time I had no idea why, but now understand that the workload of 5 different classes, along with an internship, and the looming stress of life after graduation overwhelmed to the point that I couldn’t manage my assignments because I didn’t know how to manage my time. The text offers a solution to both procrastination and perfectionism by offering productivity as the answer. Working on an assignment in some way, such as reading one hundred pages or writing a page of a paper, is better than putting an assignment off and doing nothing at all. Another tip the text offers is that along with learning how to manage time, one should also learn how to protect their time. This means saying no to activities and invitations that feel “draining rather than productive and exhilarating.” Taking care of yourself by understanding your social limits and protecting your time and space can greatly enhance your graduate school experience, as you know when to work and be productive, but also when to rest and take a break.