College students can try out these strategies used by some of history's greatest minds, gathered by Mason Currey in his book Daily Rituals, to prepare for finals week.
1. Behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner set a timer when he worked and plotted his daily productivity on a graph.
2. Writing and rewriting music was critical to composer Morton Feldman. "While you're copying it, you're thinking about it, and it's giving you other ideas," he explained in a 1986 lecture. But Feldman didn't take credit for this advice—he got it from fellow composer John Gage.
3. The studio isn't for everyone. Artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec set up his easel in brothels and sketched at cabarets.
4. An insurance lawyer by day, Wallace Stevens composed his poems on long walks on his lunch break and to and from work. When he found the perfect line, he'd stop and scribble it on an envelope he kept in his pocket.
5. To avoid distractions, British playwright Somerset Maugham's desk always faced a blank wall.
6. It doesn't get more consistent than film director David Lynch. He ate lunch at Bob's Big Boy every day for seven years, always ordering a chocolate shake and five to seven cups of coffee.
7. Inventor Nikola Tesla had more lightbulb moments in the dark. He always worked from noon to midnight with the blinds shut.
8. Never underestimate the power of a wake-up call. Immanuel Kant hired a retired soldier to rouse him at 5 a.m. each morning.
9. To create a placebo effect of productivity, novelist Nicholson Baker establishes a new routine for every book, even if it just means writing in a certain pair of shoes.
10. William Faulkner needed absolute solitude to write. The door to his home library didn't have a lock, so he closed it and removed the knob when it was time to work.
11. Writing was a team effort for Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice B. Toklas. Toklas would drive Stein around France's Ain countryside in search of an inspiring cow or rock. When they found it, Stein would settle in the spot with her notebook. When she grew bored of the scenery, they'd get back in the car and drive on.