Every year, thousands of students across the land are faced with the dull prospect of having to study over the festive holiday. Surely nothing in the universe is less appealing! The time when you can leave university behind for a few weeks and share one of the most joyful celebrations on the calendar with your closest family – and you’ve got the annoying baggage of university homework to contend with, too.
Here is advice on coping with the demands of university studying during Christmas, to stay on top of your work and still enjoy the festive cheer.
1. Make a schedule ahead of time
The most important first step is to understand what you actually need to achieve over the Christmas break – do you have exams? Essays? Do you need to get started on next term’s reading list?
Identify the key assignments, deadlines, and what kind of work you need to do for them. Then work backwards from the due date to figure out how long you have and what needs to be prioritised. This will help you from feeling overwhelmed and stressed out as you can see what needs to be done and when; making it easy to plan in downtime.
2. Set a specific time to focus
You don’t want to waste your entire Christmas holiday looking at books. Studies have shown that staring endlessly at pages can have negative effects on your ability to recall information. Be brutal with your calendar, set aside hours to concentrate on your work, and enjoy the rest of the time with your family.
Having a set study pattern can also keep your family from interrupting – If they know when you’re studying and when you’ll be done, they’ll be less likely to barge in and demand your presence!
3. Remember to be realistic
Whether you’re trying to cram too much work into each day or putting it all off until the end of the holidays, get realistic! You’ll have a more enjoyable break if you set achievable goals throughout that allow you to have fun and get through what you need to without stressing.
4. Find a quiet place
There will be laughter, music and games throughout the festive period. You need to find a quiet place in which to concentrate on your important university assignments. You could get some noise-cancelling headphones or take yourself to a local library if you can’t get away from the cheer.
5. Be positive
Studying is a pain. The trick is to do it right. When you’re in a good mood, you will find it easier to tackle a challenging subject. Take all the time you need to learn a topic and don’t beat yourself up if you are having difficulty with the subject matter. Also, take the time to learn what study methods suit you best – whether it is watching educational videos, listening to audio versions of lectures or reading and highlighting relevant information in a book.
6. Get all the materials together
Make sure you have all the textbooks, notes and flashcards you need for your study session. Leave your mobile phone off, on silent or in another room; the fewer distractions, the better you’ll study. If you are using a computer, don’t get distracted by social media or games – at least not during your allocated study time!
7. Avoid procrastination
You will certainly have been warned against procrastination, but you may not have been told why. When leaving things to the last minute, you end up cramming too much information into a short space of time. As if that weren’t bad enough, procrastination prevents you from studying in shorter bursts over a longer period, which is a much better use of your time!
8. Don’t work on Christmas
This may be tempting if you’re feeling overwhelmed but don’t do it. Christmas is a day for spending time with your family and friends, unwinding, and enjoying yourself. If you can’t put the books down without feeling stressed, then you might want to think about ways to manage your study anxiety. While it’s important to work hard and focus on your degree, it’s not healthy to neglect your personal happiness.
Looking to celebrate with your flatmates? Learn how to make the ultimate Christmas dinner in student accommodation.