Fall midterms are the worst, am I right? I mean, the weather is amazing, the leaves are changing, the pumpkin patch is calling you to come have a photo shoot with your friends, and hello, sweater weather anyone? But then, before you know it, it’s midterms. How did they sneak up so fast? Where did the time go? Didn’t we just have a test? It’s so hard to study when there’s football games to attend, pep rallies to win, and hikes to go on. But if you study efficiently, you can do it all. Here’s the best ways to beat the midterms blues AND get yourself lost in the corn maze.
1. First things first: don’t study in your hammock. I know, I know, it’s soooo perfect outside, but if you curl up in that Eno and expect yourself to be able to work on Principles of Biology, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Studying in a too-cozy environment will lead to distraction, big time. On the other end of the spectrum, locking yourself in the library will work for maybe an hour, but eventually, you’ll take a Snapchat break and see everyone having fun outside on their stories and lose focus. It’ll be impossible to get back to your notes when you’re getting a little FOMO.
Compromise: find a place to study that’s somewhere in between. Maybe your favorite coffee shop has a porch you can settle yourself on, maybe there’s a spot in the library with a nice big window that’ll give you a balance between the outside world and your studies. Whatever the case, find a place with just enough of a nice view but still can be a good environment to get stuff done.
2. There’s strength in numbers… right? Well, not always. You love your best friends, but you know they have a tendency to talk during what was supposed to be a study session. And even though some of them have good notes, once you’re all together, it’s near impossible to focus without talking every five minutes. It’s a bad study environment for you and the people around you at the library that, well, don’t find the conversation funny. They find it loud and distracting. But you also can’t study alone, if you’re anything like me, because there’s no one holding you accountable to see if you’re really focusing. Huh, if I got on pinterest right now I could look for a good dinner recipe later… and three hours later, you’ve planned your entire wedding and studied half a page of your notes. Yikes.
Compromise: at the beginning of the semester, put together a study group in your classes you know will be tough. It’s best that your study group isn’t all your besties, and that way you meet other people in your classes and you end up with a good grade. Assign different tasks to different people and come together once or twice a week to compare notes. Trust me, doing this throughout the semester really pays off.
3. I’m just gonna take a five minute break for Facebook, and then I’ll get back to work. Ehh, sorry pal, but Facebook isn’t the best break idea. If you’re really studying for a long period of time, staying sedentary is not good for your body or your brain. Taking social media breaks also increase the risk of experiencing Fall FOMO. But if your breaks end up being really long periods of you strolling around the library, eventually you’ll either get lost or run into friends and talk for 20 minutes and sit down to realize you have no idea where you left off. Then you’ll feel discouraged and it’ll be harder to get yourself back into study mode.
Compromise: for every hour, take a five-minute break to stretch, take a lap, or any other physically active thing. It’s really good for you to engage your body every hour so you don’t feel like a ball of nerves at the end of your study session.
4. Some of my friends study so long that they forget to eat, and that’s a huge mistake. Your brain needs fuel, and if you don’t feed it, you’re more likely to get tired faster and decide that school sucks and you’d rather curl up in bed and watch The Office. Basically, don’t spend a whole day studying and forget to eat. However, maybe you wanna bring your snacks from home. I know that gummy worms and Dr. Pepper sound like appealing study food (treat yo self) but really think about how you feel after eating a lot of sugary and fatty foods. You feel like taking a nap, naturally, because these foods don’t give your body nutrients that it needs. Sugar always leads to a crash.
Compromise: pack an apple and peanut butter, trail mix, carrots, celery, a banana, any of your favorite fruits, veggies, and nuts. Your brain needs vitamins and protein to stay focused and give your brain and body the energy they need to keep going. Plus, even if you eat a little too much, fruits and veggies are the foods to overdo it with.
5. Keep the caffeine handy, but pace yourself. When it’s time to cram, it’s easy to chug Red Bull and drink 3 PSLs a day, but you may wanna cool it on the highly caffeinated and sugary drinks. Like mentioned in the last point, sugar leads to a crash, and these energy drinks are not only really bad for you, but they can give you the worst headaches, which are literally the last thing you need while studying. That doesn’t mean you can’t have caffeine, though. Obviously you need your energy up and you need to stay awake, plus a warm drink during the fall is the best thing ever. You don’t have to throw out that Starbucks gift card, and you don’t need to put away the K-Cups. Caffeine in moderation is a good thing.
Compromise: black teas have caffeine in them if you’re a tea person, and peppermint tea is proven to help you focus. In fact, peppermint is really good for focusing. That’s why they used to give you peppermints during your exams in elementary school. Also, black coffee (or if you hate black coffee, coffee with milk and/or sugar) is very good for you in moderation and, depending on what you add to it, won’t give you the crash that energy drinks do.
6. It’s been a long day, I’ll just study in bed. Are you sure about that? When you’ve got a big test coming up, studying in bed might not be your best bet. After all, your bed is your happy place. Your bed is your place to watch Netflix, sleep, and spend your lazy Saturday mornings. Studying in your bed can only last so long before you end up either asleep or halfway through a season of Parks & Rec. But don’t force yourself to be uncomfortable while you study, either. If you’re not comfortable, you’ll end up thinking about how uncomfortable you are, and you won’t be able to focus on anything else. If you know the chairs on the first floor of the library are less comfortable than a rock, you’re not likely to get much done.
Compromise: find a place where you’re just comfortable enough without being cozy. If you feel like you could fall asleep where you’re studying, odds are, you will. It’s best if you find a chair at a desk or table that has good support and isn’t rock hard, unless you find rock hard to be comfortable. You do you.
With all that in mind, you’re on your way to that 4.0!! And if you study efficiently and keep up those good habits throughout the semester, you’ll never have FOMO while studying again. It’s absolutely possible to have it all. Good luck on those midterms!!