April is always an interesting month. The sun is out, the days are warm, flowers are blooming, and of course, finals are right around the corner. For me, springtime and schoolwork don’t always mix well. The weather makes it hard to head inside and get work done, and there are days when my motivation is at an all time low. That being said, April is without a doubt the most important month of the semester. With time management, motivation, and knowing when to take a break, getting through it is indeed possible. ENVD is unique since we work on studio finals as well as traditional class finals. Yes, it can be a lot. The mad dash to your studio final ends with a pin-up, and you’re immediately greeted with a week of exams. However, do not despair! It can be done.
How to Manage Your Time Well
First, I want to stress the importance of time management. When I first started in ENVD, I was pretty bad at managing my time. I would start projects the night before they were due and then stay up all night working on them. Stressed and flustered, I would finish my work minutes before presenting. Frankly, this only went on for about a month. I quickly learned that if I wanted to do well in ENVD, I needed to manage my time better. This same thought process applies to finals. When it comes to your project, start as soon as possible! This way, you maximize the time you have with your instructor to discuss your design and you give yourself the opportunity to plan everything out. It may sound ridiculous, but it’s really important that you set deadlines for yourself. If you split your project into these smaller increments, the work will be much less overwhelming.
These deadlines will really make or break how smoothly your studio final will go. Sometimes, when I start a project early, I find it hard to find motivation to work. I get back from a long day of class telling myself, “Oh, I have a lot of time to work on it later, it’s not due for a couple of weeks” and end up vegging out and watching the West Wing all night. I tell you, Netflix really is motivation’s worst enemy. However, when I set deadlines for myself, I have more drive to get my work done. I begin to realize that if I don’t work on things now, I’ll eventually be overwhelmed. I think of it as a way of holding myself accountable. In short, set deadlines, you’ll thank yourself later.
Tips for Studying
In terms of exams, it’s best to spread your studying out over a number of days. Cramming might help you remember big ideas and concepts, but reviewing the material over time will give you a better in-depth understanding. My favorite way of studying is simply going through my notes and making flashcards for everything I don’t understand. That being said, everyone is different. While we all have our own study preferences, I think it’s safe to say that time management can benefit us all.
Don’t Forget About Self-Care
I would argue that one of the most important aspects of prepping for finals is remembering to practice self-care. Eat well, know when to go to bed, and make an effort to take occasional breaks. You can study in the library for 3 straight days, but if you don’t eat or sleep at all, you probably aren’t going to remember much of the information. I know that I personally try to study not distracted for an entire hour, and then give myself a ten-minute break. I follow this cycle whenever I’m in the library over long periods of time, and I’ve found that it really helps me focus and relax. It’s important to work hard, but it’s also important to remember to work efficiently. This same idea applies to studio. While it can be tempting to work at your studio desk for hours on end without leaving, you probably aren’t working too efficiently. Instead, come in and get some work done, leave and grab a snack, chat with a friend for a few minutes, and then come back and continue working. It might seem like you’re wasting time, but in reality, you will probably get more done after your break than you would have if you didn’t take one.
Like I said, April is an important month. Exams are only weeks away, and most ENVD students are already working on their studio finals. I say, take a deep breath, make a plan, and get to work. In doing this, you’ll only be setting yourself up for success!