Finals week is coming up, and — at least for me — that means camping out in the library for most of the day. For finals week last semester, I posted about how to stay sane during this stressful time. This time around, I figured I would write about something I have quite a bit of experience with: packing your backpack for the library. Here are some of the essentials aside from the usual notebooks, textbooks, laptop, and pens that I make sure to bring with me when I head to the library during finals week.
If your only plan for the day is to sit in the library and do homework, there’s no reason you should be wearing anything other than your most comfortable outfit. For me, a lot of the time this means exercise shorts, flip flops, and a hoodie. This is definitely not the classiest look but I’m studying all day, not going to a nice restaurant. You won’t get anything done if you can’t stop thinking about how uncomfortable you are and who wants to sit in the library if you’re not being productive? Before you head out in the morning to stake out your table, put on whatever is most comfortable for you to sit still for a few hours and you’ll be much more productive throughout the day!
Hydration, hydration, hydration! Even though studies vary on how much water they say you should be drinking each day, the general consensus is that most people don’t drink enough. I always bring a full Nalgene with me, set it on the desk or table where I’m studying, and make sure to take a sip every once in a while. I find that just putting a water bottle on the desk is enough to encourage me to drink more water. Not only is staying hydrated just generally good for your body, it also makes your skin look better and keeps you feeling refreshed.
A pair of headphones is a library essential for me! I love listening to music while I study and headphones are not only a great way to cancel out the noises of people whispering or walking around, they’re also the universal way to say “don’t bother me, I’m focused.” Next time you really want to focus in the library, pop your headphones in and get to work.
Somehow, it’s so easy to forget to pack your phone and laptop chargers. You really have to make a habit of putting your charger in your backpack whenever you put your laptop in it. I make sure to bring my charger with me even if I’m just going to class and know I won’t need to charge my laptop between then and the next time I’m in my room because you just never know. Plus, associating putting your laptop in your bag with putting your charger in your bag builds the habit of never having one without the other and that sets you up for never forgetting to bring your charger to the library.
I also always keep a spare phone charger in my backpack. I love doing this because I never have to worry about forgetting my phone charger if I know I keep one in my room and one in my backpack. It also never hurts to be the friend who always has the charger!
If you’re planning on camping out all day, you have to bring snacks! Where in the library you study really determines what kind of snacks you can bring. While carrot sticks might be healthy and delicious, they’re not the best snack for the absolutely silent third floor. The ideal study snack is quiet, healthy, filling, and delicious. Some of my favorites are bananas, pasta salad, and bagels. If your library has a microwave like mine does, you can spend the whole day there and have a hot meal. Just bring some soup or something you can heat up from room temperature and voila, lunch!
If there’s no way for you to eat lunch at the library, don’t stay all day! Taking care of yourself is important, and that means eating enough to be properly nourished. Don’t be afraid to take a break so you can take care of your body.
I have a notebook that is filled with everything from blog post outlines to notes from interviews for the campus newspaper to lists of classes I want to take in the future. I call this my “catch-all notebook” and some people might call it a “brain dump” notebook, but whatever you call it I think it’s an incredible asset to a productive lifestyle. While I don’t really go anywhere without this notebook because it’s always in my backpack, I think it’s especially an absolute necessity for the library.
If you forget a notebook for a particular class, you can take notes in your catch-all notebook instead of skipping those notes altogether. If you need a spare sheet of notebook paper, the catch-all notebook is a ready supply. If you have to make a detailed to-do list but you ran out of room in your planner, the catch-all notebook is the perfect place. Basically, I’m a huge fan of the concept and I think everyone should have a notebook like this.
No list of any kind of necessities would be complete without my planner. It’s definitely my favorite thing in my backpack (and there are a lot of things in my backpack) and I can’t imagine a trip to the library without it. I use it to keep track of all my assignments for all my classes so if I didn’t bring it along, I would have no idea what to do because I wouldn’t know what was even assigned. Even if you’re not a paper planner type of person, you should really be keeping track of your class assignments somewhere, even if it’s just a folder full of syllabi. Whatever you use to keep track of assignments and appointments, don’t forget it when you’re packing your backpack for the library, because then you won’t know what to prioritize.
What are your finals week library necessities? Let me know in the comments!