Finals Week Survival Guide

Finals Week Survival Guide

Friendsgiving in Chicago w Nonfiction and Poetry friends!

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and while that break was wonderful, we all knew what was waiting just around the corner. It’s hard to believe that it’s already here, but yes, finals week, the most anticipated and most dreaded week for many students, has arrived. What’s a grad student to do in order to survive and stay on track?


I know it might seem impossible, but you need sleep even in the midst of final projects, papers, and (if you’re teaching) grading. It’s totally reasonable to expect you won’t be sleeping as much, but don’t cut this essential out of your schedule. My tip: take naps where and when you can so you can recharge and give your mind a rest. Set an alarm for 30 minutes and don’t let yourself hit snooze!



This is something that I have been guilty of in the past, being too busy or too focused to get something to eat. Just like sleep, this is obviously crucial to remain living once finals week ends. It’s okay to chow down on some junk food (many of us could use some comfort food right about now, right?), but don’t forget to sneak in some more healthy stuff too (think fruit, nuts, maybe a salad) to keep running at peak performance.

Coffee and Donut and writing


Caffeine, a beautiful and cruel compound that can energize and awaken us or can send us teetering off the cliff of over-caffeination into the land of the non-productive. Too much coffee can also hurt your stomach, so be careful about how much you sip, or you might end up further distracting yourself from your work. My tip: Green tea contains some caffeine (not as much as coffee), but is a lot gentler on your stomach. Try switching off between tea and coffee so you don’t over do it.

Tea, Cookies, Translation


This seems counter-intuitive or even impossible right? But it’s necessary for a bit of mental stability during this stressful time. Optometrists suggest that for every twenty minutes of computer work you should look for twenty seconds at an object at least twenty feet away. They call this the “20-20-20 rule” to prevent eyestrain. In addition to resting your eyes, it’s important if you’re sitting down for a long period of time to get moving! I try getting up every hour or so to walk around my apartment, stretch, pet my cats, etc. Just be careful not to get distracted and not go back to your work!

TO DO or DIE list


I am one of those people who makes “to do” lists, and I find that as I have more and more stuff to get done, this is the easiest way for me to stay on top of stuff. I break it into “TO DO:TODAY” and other categories such as “tomorrow” or “by the weekend.”


While having a break is a lot to look forward to, I find that taking moments to think about and plan all of the exciting things I plan on doing during break helps me push through a little bit harder to get everything done. In less than two weeks I will be on a plane to the warm and wonderful world of Florida!


What are your best tips and tricks for getting through these stressful last weeks of the semester?