It’s that time of year. School’s out for the fall semester and you’re finally free to go full on holiday mode! No more waking up early for morning lectures, no more late night cramming session. It’s time to relax with friends, family, and your favorite holiday pajamas… or is it?
No matter how prepared you are, there’s still that nagging feeling at the back of your mind that you should really be studying. There’s nothing that takes the fun out of your non-curricular activities more than knowing you have exams coming up soon. Why is it that the powers that be schedule exams right after the holiday break? I think I know who isn’t getting a visit from Santa…
So how do you prepare for your exams while maintaining a healthy study/jolly balance? Here are 5 tips for enjoying your winter holidays while still gettings some proper studying done.
1. Schedule your holiday fun
Start by figuring out exactly how much time you have. As a student, nobody tells you exactly when your holiday begins and ends or when they expect you to be back at the library again. It can help if you decide, for instance: “My holiday begins on December 23 and ends on January 3rd” (from experience, be kind to yourself and allow an extra day for that New Year’s haze to evaporate). “That gives me exactly 11 days of holiday.”
Write down all holiday-related activities that you wish to attend – and prioritize! Try to figure out how long each activity lasts, including transportation (or hangovers, if that rocks your boat). For example:
- Christmas day and family Christmas party, 2 whole days + half a day of transportation.
- New Year’s Eve shopping, party + hangovers, 1 and a half day.
- Eggnog, fireplace and Christmas theater with significant other, 2 days.
- Sleeping and watching Netflix, 1 day”.
If possible, choose whether you want to dedicate full days to studying or if you wish to split it up and study a few hours every day. It’s important to be very realistic, and you might have to compromise on some activities to make time for studying. Four days equals roughly 32 working hours, which is important – now you can start the countdown! When you have completed your goal, you can relax with a clear conscience – even if you complete them before your holiday is over.
Once you have decided how much to study, and when, tell your family. Communication is essential. By sharing your plan with your family, they know what to expect, and maybe they’ll even help you stay on track.
2. Choose a study space
Do yourself a favor and make a plan up front for where to work. It’s often a good idea to get out of the house to be able to focus better. It can be very distracting to sit at home knowing your family is watching movies in the other room. Set up a cozy, undisturbed work space at home, and find a good café or coworking space as a backup if working at home fails. It could even be at a friend’s house, as long as it is not someone you will end up sharing beers with all afternoon instead of working.
You can get a good working-at-home routine started by getting up early in the morning and beginning to study before everyone else wakes up. That way, you have a chance to complete your planned hours early and you can enjoy some of the fun activities you’ve planned the rest of the day.
3. Prioritize your assignments and exams
It’s very important to prioritize your work. Make a list of all assignments and exams and the size and difficulty of the projects. If you have any assignments due shortly after Christmas, you should start with these, even if you have more extensive assignments due later. Remember to divide and conquer – split all your projects into smaller tasks to see your progression clearly.
Once you made the complete overview and divided the projects into tasks, you will have a much better sense of how many tasks you can realistically get done during your holidays.
4. Exercise and get enough sleep
The holidays can actually be an extremely strenuous time for your body, as they are often associated with lots of sugar, carbohydrate-rich and fatty foods. And on top of this, many of us endure the darkest, coldest month of the year. As cozy as dark days sitting by candlelight can be, missing out on sunlight can be pretty tough on your body – that’s why many of us feel extremely tired or even depressed during winter.
You should try to get some exercise. You don’t have to tear the gym apart for hours, but small, active breaks from studying are well spent. If you start to fall asleep or lose focus while reading, go outside for 3-10 minutes and activate your body and brain. It really helps, and you will perform better when you sit down again.
At the Lix office, we follow a simple routine. We walk around the office (which is quite big) or down the stairs and back up (the 5th floor will be the death of us), and then we hold a plank for 1 minute. We do it once every hour. It’s a lot easier when we back each other up – so you can consider teaming up with your sister or dog at home to make sure someone is holding you accountable.
Sleep is also incredibly important. It’s very different from person to person how much sleep you actually need, but when you feel tired during winter, it’s because most of us need more rest during the dark months. Your sleep is negatively affected if you eat a heavy diet and drink alcohol, and to be honest, those are difficult to avoid this time of year.
You can help yourself by setting a specific bedtime and wake-up time each day and stick to them, rather than staying up during the late hours trying to catch up with the pages you didn’t make it through today.
5. Fuel your inspiration
Read something out of interest! Your winter break is the perfect opportunity to practice reading for pleasure. Reading something else than what you are used to can be an extremely valuable practice, because it fills your brain with new concepts, words, and narratives.
Think of your brain as a brewing teapot. If you keep pouring water in and water out without changing the leaves, your tea will become thin and bitter. If you do not feel like reading something, you can try writing for pleasure – a short story, a gratitude journal, or a letter to your grandparents. It’s all about reminding your brain that reading and writing is a joyful, inspiring experience, and to help it get out of the old routines.
You can do this!
Happy Holidays and happy studying from the entire Lix team 🎄