Studying

A Realistic Guide for Studying at Crunch Time

Two people sit at a desk, writing notes

AKA A Realistic Guide for People Who Are Sick of Being Told to Get Sleep and Exercise

It’s crunch time and if you are like most students, you’re trying desperately to keep your head above water. And while doing that, you’re likely to run into well-adjusted people who have the audacity to tell you what you should be doing in order to make your life easier. “Study for four hours a day, go to the gym, eat well, blah, blah, blah.” Look, if you haven’t been doing these things since the beginning of the semester, there’s little chance that you’re going to magically change your ways in the final two weeks before exams.

So, if you’re going to continue to shoot yourself in the foot like I know you will, this list is for you. It gives you all the annoying (yet truthful) tips I alluded to above, but without making you feel like a complete failure at life.

Stop studying on campus:

Since I started to spend my study hours quietly sipping cappuccinos in cafes, I have completely stopped going to the library or the SLC to study. In fact, I’ve flat out stopped studying on campus. Why? Because by this point, all I associate Ryerson with are deadlines, work, and other sources of stress. None of those things are very conducive to me wanting to work. I never understood how people could get anything done in a noisy cafe, that is, until I tried it myself. That’s because cafes offer a relaxed environment, which is exactly what you need when you’re silently panicking about all the shit you have to do.

Pro tip #1: Go to a place with a hotspot login so that you’ll have limited internet. This will ensure you use that precious time to be productive. If you’re in the Ossington/Bloor area, I recommend Bloomer’s. They will give you a two hour internet timeline. Also, their food is delish.

Pro tip #2: Go to the cafes that your friends work at. It increases your chances of acquiring free drinks (unless you want to nurse that cheap drip coffee until it’s beyond cold), and you’ll be able to converse with someone you actually like during your study breaks. They can also keep an eye on you to make sure you’re getting your work done.

The takeaway: Take your woes to some place nice.

If you can’t do everything, at least do something:

Stop thinking about how you have no time to get your assignment done and just do something. Challenge yourself to spend one hour (or even 30 minutes if your attention span is that small) on getting prep-work done. You’re more likely to keep working on your assignment once you’ve gotten started.

The takeaway: Go to D2L right now and take a look at that outline you’ve been too afraid to acknowledge.

Netflix is not a study break. Netflix is avoidance.

Here’s how to tell the difference between a study break and an irresponsible waste of your time: if you don’t feel refreshed and ready to work after, it’s not a study break.

Here are four examples of things that make for a good study break:

1) Going for a walk;

2) Spending some time with your friends;

3) Cooking a nice dinner;

4) Seeing some live music or attending a gallery exhibition;

If you’ve decided to treat your ventures in academia like a tortuous prison that keeps you from enjoying life, you’re never going to want to work. So, go outside and be a person for an hour or two. Also, when you’re actively taking a break rather than virtually (meaning that you’re not watching episode upon episode of Master of None), you’re more likely to keep realistic tabs on when the break ought to be over.

The takeaway: Save Downton Abbey for the holidays.

Bonus tip: Don’t Accept Defeat Without a Fight

When your unyielding procrastination has taken you to a place of complete indifference, remember that it’s better to at least make an attempt rather than to give up altogether. The night before my last midterm, I seriously considered not going because there was no way I was going to get a decent grade. Well, I went, and I bombed it. But the professor clearly took pity on me and bell curved the crap out of my grade, meaning that there’s still a chance that I’ll scrape through. That wouldn’t have been the case if I’d decided to stay in bed.

So, rather than setting up unrealistic expectations that will inevitably add to your stress load when you find yourself unable to reach them, I suggest you try at least one of the aforementioned suggestions as you attempt to tackle your workload. Better yet, take it and make it your own. Maybe there’s a place on campus that you love to study at. Great! Go there. In any case, all that matters is that you find something that works for you. And remember, the finish line is right around the corner!

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Jessica Myshrall
Jessica is a fan of live music, the dangerous art of city cycling, and eating unhealthy amounts of chocolate. She writes to reflect on her experiences and to share her stories and thoughts with others.