Here we are again, at the crux of the quarter, finals upon us, and countless tests, papers, projects and presentations due during the supposed “dead week.” What happened to the week before finals in which we actually have time to study for finals? We all want out of the quarter – even the teachers, who seem to use dead week as finals week so as to begin their personal vacations a little earlier. While they get to take our fifteen page research papers on a plane to read, flying far away from Fall Quarter, many of us are still stuck in the library, cramming for finals. Dead week is not so dead – in fact, it may be the busiest of the quarter’s ten weeks.

So how do we survive? High doses of adrenaline tend to kick in for the lucky ones, while the less fortunate stimulate their nervous systems with blue doses of Adderall. In asking several people what gets them through the last couple weeks of the quarter, I was greeted with some pretty standard answers: cases of beer, alcohol-and-sea-salt-cleaned bongs, sugary Raisinettes, 24 ounce cans of Rockstar and the promise of tonight’s “Heroes” season finale. Unfortunately, Monday night can only last so long and there’s no guarantee “Heroes” will come through with an outstanding finale. And once those Raisinettes are gobbled up and gone, what else is there to look forward to? What do we have to live and study for? Simple! Set up small “yardstones” – a modified version of milestones – to help you digest the stresses and texts of the day.

First, renounce all of your everyday chores, like washing dishes and vacuuming. Finals kindly hands many of us carte blanches when it comes to cleaning the house – and I fully intend on utilizing the get-out-of-cleaning pass. Everyone repeat after me: Screw the dishes. Hand your goldfish’s care to a neighbor, don’t confirm those friend requests and maybe even turn off the wireless network on your computer. Focus! Don’t have time to gas the car? Who cares? Let the thing run on fumes, this week is about you.

Reward yourself for every step taken towards the progression and completion of papers, projects or exams. Give yourself a reason to wake up this week. Set your alarm knowing your first goal of the day won’t be to read and highlight the last five weeks worth of course pack reading. Wake up and have your first short yard-stone waiting at the foot of the bed – a special breakfast treat, an early half hour of CNN or the right to skip the morning’s shower. Decide ahead of time, to get you through the earliest hours of studying, where lunch should be. Does Wendy’s motivate you? Good. Tell yourself there will be no fries until pages 1 to 15 of your research report are flashing at you, double-spaced on the screen. Once you spell and grammar check, allow yourself to even super-size your order. This is your time to be frazzled, and subsequently, it is also your time to reward yourself with whatever stress-alleviating glints you find to be available throughout the day.

Forget the heels and collared shirts this week, kids. Stay comfortable in a pair of stained sweatpants and an oversized, tattered UCSB sweatshirt – the unofficial uniform of Fall Finals Week 2007. Give yourself a week of complete apathy. Girls, keep the foundation brush on the dresser. Boys, leave the flaky hair products under the sink. Nobody will be looking at you this week. All of our bleary-eyed focuses will go towards ensuring we pass a class. Trust me, not one person will cite you pretty ones this week for foregoing raccoon-style eyeliner. Advertise to the world how serious you are about finals: Keep the contacts out of your eyes and instead choose to hide behind your hip, emo glasses. Keep the week simple by having only very small expectations of yourself. Remember, your obligation is to yourself and your “yardstones.” The last of the quarter is long and winding. Give yourself help hopping from hour to hour by being your own “yardstone” advocate. Good luck with the remainder of the quarter everyone! Don’t trip!