Final year is horrible. You've listened to your tutors and other students before you saying how hard final year is, but you never really appreciate their words until you're there yourself. I definitely searched for similar posts to this a year ago, so I thought I'd write down a few of my top tips for final years and things I wished I listened too or done sooner.
1. Treat final year like a full time job. In our house most of us treated final year like a full time job. 9am-6pm we'd be working, giving ourselves tea and meal breaks of course, but aside from that we'd either be in the library or in our rooms working. Then bang on 6pm, everyone seemed to magically appear in the kitchen to cook their dinner. Of course during deadline times you may have to continue working into the evenings, but if you have this mindset you'll cope with the workload much better. Find a time frame that suits you and set aside those hours for working each day.
2. Schedule time off. This is 100% the most important tip I can give you. Without this you'll just go insane. Get a work life balance going and it'll make final year much easier for yourself. This is your last year in university, find out what's on, explore and be a tourist in your own city. Then get straight back to reality with those essays. Saying that, you also need to know when to say no to plans. My rule was if I had a heavy workload and time off already that week, unless it was something major that I'd look back on in the future and regret not doing, then I didn't go.
3. Organise yourself. Everyone loves stationary shopping, so go and buy all those pretty files and notebooks you've been eyeing up, anything that will help you get organised. I found a whole bunch of helpful things over on Pinterest, from apps to print outs. Find the best way for you to keep organised and stick with it. For group projects, we really liked Asana. Also I know it sounds sad, but during my month over Christmas I started to plan my next essays. It sounds insane, but by just doing these little things when I had an hour spare saved me so much time in semester two.
4. Take good notes. This leads on from organising. As horrid as 9am lectures can be, try and take decent notes! Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm as far from a morning person as can be and I'd much prefer to be asleep.
5. If you're unhappy, say something and take action. My only regret from final year was not changing my dissertation tutor when I was unhappy. In the end it resulted in me crying in the middle of the library and having to rewrite entire sections less than 24 hours before the deadline. If for whatever reason, you don't think your assigned dissertation tutor is right for you, change. Don't worry about offending them or anything else, you're paying a lot of money for this course, switch to someone who can give you the support you need.
6. Listen to your tutors. They're there to help you, so take that help whenever you can. Also, at the end of the day, they're the one's who will be marking your work. Try and learn what the tutor who is marking your work likes and go by that. They may have a favourite academic or industry professional who they constantly quote in lectures or maybe even stupid things such as preferring paragraphs formatted in a certain way, every little helps!
7. Cry if you need to. I'd say 98% of the people I know who have graduated have said that at some point they were on the verge of or had cried during final year. Let it out, don't be ashamed. Give yourself a break, rant it out to your friends and then get back to it. It's never good to keep those emotions in.
8. Keep saving and back up your work. You don't want to be crying because you just lost all your work 3000 words in, the week before the deadline. Keep saving your work as you go along, back it up on a memory stick and set up a dropbox. Little things that take 2 seconds, yet can save you your sanity if you find yourself in that situation.
9. Learn how to use the library. I know this may sound a little odd too, but you're going to be using so many references this year, you might as well know how to find these and open up options you may not know existed. Explore the portal/blackboard/library gateway (or whatever your university calls their intranet). There's all sorts of things on there which you may not have known existed or that can help you during final year.
10. Get enough sleep. Like I said earlier, I need my sleep. I found that if I didn't get enough sleep, I couldn't concentrate on my work, I got more upset and ended up worrying more. Find time in your schedule to get in enough sleep and allow yourself to have naps if needs be. All nighters are no fun either, trust me, so avoid those if you can too.
11. Tackle things together. In semester two, friends from my course and I started to book group tables in the library so we could all work in the same place. I'm very easily distracted,
12. Find your motivation. All of us have something we want to aim for or achieve in life, so use this as your motivation. During final year I had everything from motivational quotes on my wall to various motivational phone and laptop backgrounds. I personally suggest motivational Ryan Gosling.
I know it's horrible, you're tired and you just want it to be over but not want it to end at the same time. It'll be worth it, trust me. It's a bit like child birth, when it's all over with and you're proud of the work you've created and your classification, all the hard work seems worth it.
You can do it.