Editor offers advice for managing finals

Living Editor Alexis Sachdev offers readers advice for getting through finals season without spontaneously combusting. Have you ever been so tired, your eyes are permanently fixed to seeing double? Have you ever maxed out the

Screen shot 2011-11-29 at 12.38.29 AMLiving Editor Alexis Sachdev offers readers advice for getting through finals season without spontaneously combusting.

Have you ever been so tired, your eyes are permanently fixed to seeing double?

Have you ever maxed out the daily recommended intake of caffeine at 3 p.m. with an all-nighter on the horizon?

Have you ever stayed up for five days straight with your life hanging by a string, hardly nourished with triple-shot iced coffees, Marlboro Reds and Adderall?

Hi, my name is Lex, and that’s the story of my life. If you search “#struggle” on Twitter, my tweets are probably the first, second and 50th hits. “Wah” has become a staple term in my vocabulary, usually preceded and succeeded by a string of expletives worthy of my mother’s forceful backhand.

Journalism students don’t have it harder than anyone else. We do the bare minimum for our assignments last minute, skip entirely too much class, troll Facebook into the wee hours of the night instead of what little work we should do for said homework and call up our computer-savvy friends for a Dreamweaver tutorial to flair up our WordPress sites. But, one trait I have noticed that sets journos apart from other Owls is our tendency to hyperbolize every situation. To put it bluntly, we blow stuff out of proportion.

OK, that might just be me.

But if you’re like me when, amidst your double vision, caffeine-induced heart attacks and the inexplicable need to punch someone in the face, you realize none of your homework is finished and you’re three years deep in a jobless, penniless and thankless degree, you’re not alone.

These mental breakdowns and general day-to-day struggles are really just indicative of a lack of life organization and time management. With finals creeping up ever-so-stealthily, I’ve decided to impart some unsolicited advice that will hopefully guide you through the next two weeks relatively painlessly, after which you’re free to wear holiday-themed Bill Cosby sweaters and reindeer ears, worry-free of professors and projects.

Stay Organized

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “stay organized? Really? No duh.” Well, “no duh” is right. Shoving all your notes, homework assignments, papers, syllabi and project assignments into one dilapidated folder is not being organized. Neither is ditching the folder and crumpling up all these documents into the bottom of your bookbag.

If you don’t own a planner yet, buy one. Then snag several folders, each a different color. This is what we in the OCD world call color coordination. Each class has a designated color. Bonus points if you use colored pens to correspond.

If you’re dreadfully forgetful, grab a Sharpie and write your to-do list on your mirror. Every morning you’ll know immedately what lies ahead and every night, you’ll be able to track what you achieved or still need to accomplish. And don’t worry, the Greeks were right–Windex washes it right off.

Knowing where everything is and being able to find it at the drop of a hat is vital. When poo hits the fan–let’s face it, it always does in the end–being the Martha Stewart of desk organization will save your life.

Be Armed

And no, I don’t mean with pepper spray or a knife. OK, depending where you live, maybe that’s crucial. But today’s lesson is all about how to get the most caffeinated bang for your precious buck, and without melting away the lining of your stomach with radioactive chemicals. Unless you want to grow a third foot. Some people are into that, I guess.

Red Bull is great, even better with vodka, but in all honesty, it’s like trying to fix the Hoover Dam with a Band-Aid.

According to MayoClinic, a 16-ounce coffee from Starbucks packs 330 mg of caffeine. Five-Hour Energy comes in second with 207 mg in 2-ounces. One NoDoz pill holds 200 mg. Red Bull, Monster, AMP and Rockstar all clock in between 70 and 80 mg each.

Most doctors agree that 300 mg of caffeine daily is more than enough, and any more will cause sleeplessness, and jitters. Even if you’re not a math whiz, wake up and smell the coffee. One can of lime green radioactive sludge isn’t going to keep you awake long enough, and I’m pretty sure consuming more than five of those a day can’t be good for your body.

Take a cue from your herbal-friendly buddies and go natural. A coffee or two is all you’ll need to get through that all-nighter and you can make it taste like chocolate. Win-win situation.

Stay Calm

It’s going to get worse. A lot worse, I promise. Blowing a gasket over each miniscule detail is exhausting, so instead take three deep breaths and save that steam for when the situation calls for it. Otherwise, buy some tissues and be prepared to call your mom every night crying about how badly you ruined your life because you lost your green highlighter.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you to exercise to clear your head. You’ve probably been eating pizza and drinking coffee for the past 36 hours and your body is probably revolting against the sheer thought of physical activity. Unhook the caffeine IV and take a nap, watch a brainless comedy or just veg out. Your poor noggin needs a vacation away from reality for a few hours and your bed misses you.


Bathe. All that time you’re spending awake debunks the “I don’t have time” excuse.

Find a healthy outlet for your stress. Punching little kids isn’t cool anymore.

Actually study.

Cuddle with cute animals (i.e. bunnies, kittens, puppies, etc.) as often as possible. They will remind you of the happiness that still exists in the world.

For my friends and colleagues reading this manifesto, I might be a hypocrite, but I believe it’s easier to tell others how to live their lives than to run my own. I won’t be stopping my melodramatic ways anytime soon, but at least you can rejoice in knowing I know how to stop. I’m just forever struggling.

Alexis Sachdev can be reached at asachdev@temple.edu.

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