How to get your act together

A guide to making the final push in the academic year

It’s the end of the semester and no one really wants to do anything. You’ve worked hard over the past few months, but with all these papers, tests and finals popping up, it’s hard to put in that final push. The worst part is that this is the time where you really need to be doing the most.

You need to get your act together. And here’s how.

Tip No. 1: Organize yourself with apps

One of the greatest things about smartphones is they have apps to help get you organized. Browse through them and pick one. My personal favorite is Zippy because it gives you stats on how productive you are, when you are most productive and how timely you are with your tasks.

There are also apps to help you manage stress. UB Student Wellness recommends apps like Stress Tracker and At Ease, which can help you relax through meditation and breathing techniques and take control of your responsibilities to power through stress. Both are available on Android and Apple device.

If apps aren’t your thing, you should probably modernize. But in the meantime, just use pen and paper. Write down what you have to do immediately, what you must do sometime this week and what you should be doing sometime this week. Complete the tasks in order of importance. The thrill of crossing something out or swiping a task away is oddly rewarding.

Tip No. 2: Use a library

Whether it’s your local library or one of UB’s libraries, this study-centered sanctuary can be one of your best friends when it’s crunch time.

For writing a paper, reserve any books you need online and then go in to the library, pick them up and write the paper. Try to get it done all in one sitting – that way you just knock it out quickly.

UB Student Wellness brings stress dogs to the libraries during finals week to allow students to take a break and cuddle with a furry friend for a bit.

For studying, the library is great because there is an environmental pressure on you to be studying. If you try studying in your room, you have plenty of ways to slack off like playing video games or watching Netflix. But in the library, you have fewer distractions and feel obligated to study. Use this to your advantage.

Tip No. 3: Manage your stress, don’t ignore it

It’s the most stressful time of the year – but don’t let it get to you. Manage the stress. Take long relaxing showers, go for a walk, study outside or have a nice chat with a friend – whatever calms you down. Make sure you schedule time to take a break.

If you want to find a peaceful place on campus, UB Wellness Education Services suggests Kanazawa Island near the Ellicott Complex, looking through the UB Art Gallery in the CFA or the Baird Point pillars. You can also go grab a free cup of tea from the Wellness Suite in 114 Student Union.

Ignoring your stress in the hopes it will go away almost never works. If you keep ignoring it, it will impact your studying efficiency and writing performance. Ignoring stress is not managing stress.

Tip No. 4: Keep going to class

You may be tempted to skip class in order to catch up on work, but all this does is leave you with more to catch up on. Keep going to class. It keeps the material fresh in your head and you won’t miss any important end of the year announcements.

Tip No. 5: No partying

This is no time for drinking or going out. This is a time for discipline, for sitting down and doing what must be done. Not only does drinking itself waste valuable time, the hangover will kill any urge to do research for a paper or study productively.

According to the University of Georgia’s Health Center, drinking can lead to general poor decision-making and a lowered level of abstract thinking, as well as obvious legal problems. Do you really want to deal with all that right now?

Tip No. 6: Actually study in groups

Group study can be a valuable tool. It allows you pool your efforts and discuss concepts critically, helping you understand them more. According to a study done at Washington University in St. Louis in 2005, studying in groups is more effective because when communicating information to the people you are studying with, you are actually putting it in your own words. This allows you to understand the material clearer.

But be sure to actually be studying. Group study with friends often devolves in to hanging out with books open so if you’re going to do group study, make sure it actually is group study.

Tip No. 7: Stay healthy

Take extra steps to stay healthy during the end of the semester. Stress lowers your immune system, which can cause you to get sick during finals week. That is the last thing you want. Take your vitamins, eat regularly and drink plenty of fluids to ensure you don’t have to carry the extra weight of sickness around all week.

Remember that while sleeping may seem like it’s eating up valuable study time, it is required. Studying while you can barely stay awake simply isn’t smart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, sticking to a sleep schedule and to avoid pulling an all-nighter in order to maintain your health.

Daniel McKeon is a features editor and can be reached at