It’s just not fair! After a glorious long holiday weekend, at the University of Oregon we have to come back to campus for DEAD WEEK. The origin of the phrase is that the week should be “dead” – that is, free from too many deadlines and a chance to prepare for finals. As faculty, we even have some rules around how much we can have due during this week. Of course, there’s one big caveat… as long as it’s in the syllabus, it’s fair game*.
For JSchool students, dead week is often the most jam packed of the term. Presentations and final projects are often due during the last week of the term. My classes are no different. I don’t often give final exams and my students have presentations, final papers and team projects due… sorry.
It hasn’t been that long since I was a student and certainly I have weeks that require additional focus and fortitude. Here are my five tips for surviving (and maybe even thriving) week’s like this:
- Organize: For me, it’s a brain dump. Literally getting everything out on paper that’s running around in my head. I like unlined paper and adding in little doodles. I’ve learned I’m not a very linear thinker, so this works for me. But if you’re a list maker, go with that. Note: Don’t try to start a new system in the heat of the battle.
- Prioritize (a.k.a. Pick Your Battles): Whoa! that’s quite a list you have there, eh? And not enough hours in the day, you say? Figure out what’s most important. You can look at which assignments/projects carry the greatest weight, for example. Or which projects are due first. Estimating the time each will take can help figure out how the puzzle fits together. You have to go back to the list every day. Priorities can change, but keeping your eye on the big picture will help you stay focused through the week. And at the end of the day, you may have to make choices about what you can and can’t do.
- Get enough sleep: All nighters are not good for your brain or your overall health. How many people do you know who get the “finals week flu” (that cold/flu feeling exhaustion that comes once your body can let down its defenses)? Try to get 6 – 8 hours of sleep. You’ll find you’re more productive and sharper than if you try to work into the wee hours of every night.
- Eat a balanced diet: Red bulls and Doritos are are not a balanced diet. Eat enough fruits and veggies, along with enough protein for your brain to function. It’s important! For real.
- Treat yourself when it’s over: At the end of the week, know that you worked hard. Damn hard. Treat yourself. Whether it’s a spa treatment (pedicures, for the win!), some retail therapy or drinks with friends to celebrate your collective success, don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments.
What do you do to survive your own dead week? I’d love to hear!
*more or less