Staying focused over the holidays is hard during the most wonderful time of the year: People are merry, snow is falling, and happiness is in the air.
Understandably, for many students, distractions abound, and the conflict between fun and work can cause stress.
As midterms are coming up in January, smart studiers are going to spend at least a portion of the holiday break preparing. Here are some ways to keep your momentum going, even when diving into a textbook is the last thing you want to do!
1. Make a study schedule and stick to it.
Open your planner and make a concerted effort to mark down all of your assignments and all of the material you want to review over the next few weeks.
In addition to recording all of your assignments and studies, make sure all your other activities are noted in your planner. Make sure you indicate what will be studied, when it will be done, and how long it will take. It could be 30 minutes of algebra homework and review every day, completing a science thesis over two days, or practicing for an upcoming history presentation daily.
Staying focused over the holidays is hard, but ultimately it’s up to you as to how your time will be divvied up. The more challenging the class or assignment, the more time you should allot. And the more outside activities you have, the more important it will be to stick to your schedule.
2. Set deadlines and hold yourself accountable.
Keep your focus over the holidays by setting and committing to deadlines by when something should be accomplished.
One way to cushion and protect yourself from running out of time is to set your deadlines a bit earlier than when assignments are due. This will give you a little margin if another activity runs over time.
Make the deadlines manageable by breaking apart projects and assigning several over several consecutive deadlines. Take the following example: Learn five new vocabulary words each day between Monday and Friday, and review what you have already learned on that last day so that by Friday, you will know a total of 25 words.
3. Reward yourself for achieving your goals.
You can’t possibly study all the time. That’s a sure recipe for stress!
Since it’s the holiday season, there are multiple fun ways to take breaks. After homework, reward yourself by watching a classic Christmas movie. When you’re done with a tutoring session, do a little holiday baking. After studying for a math test, go to a holiday concert. Make a promise to yourself that you will do whatever seasonal activity you enjoy after you complete focusing on your day’s study goal.
4. Seek out a quiet zone.
We all have places in our house that just invite distractions and make it tempting to get sidetracked. The lure of our video games, phones, and other screens can sometimes be too much to handle.
If you find yourself getting tempted, seek a new quiet zone: a room in your or a friend’s or relative’s house, the local public library, or an empty classroom after school. You will be amazed by how much can be accomplished and how easy it will be to focus when noise and distraction are eliminated.
5. Timing is everything.
Figure out when during the day you feel most alert and have the least chance of getting distracted. Some of us are morning people, while others feel they work best later in the day.
Whatever the case, only you know what time of the day is best and most effective for your studying, so, whatever it is, stick with it. Especially during the holiday break, nights are often abuzz with excitement; holiday concerts, festive meals, and visits by family and friends. If these activities compete for your time, maybe it’s worth getting up an hour earlier to study while calmness surrounds you.
A lot is going on during the holiday break, and there are plenty of fun things to do other than study. Even for grown-up kids, staying focused during the holidays is challenging!
No wonder it’s hard to stay focused over the holidays!
But if you schedule and plan your time accordingly and choose the most appropriate time of the day for you to study, you’ll have plenty of time for fun, too. Maximize your study session by choosing a place to study that is quiet and serene. Don’t forget to give yourself breaks and reward yourself by surrounding yourself with fun.
See more of our best study tips for students.