Yule be working: eight study tips for the Christmas break

As with football seasons, the gaps between Christmases seem to get shorter with each passing year, and the start of the new academic year feels three minutes ago, rather than three months.

But the reality is that term breaks up incredibly soon, offering the promise of a couple of weeks’ suspension of routine. Unfortunately, another reality, and we appreciate it’s a harsh one, is that if you have prelims or mock exams in January, you’ll almost certainly need to spend at least some of the holiday revising.

study tips for Christmas break
No one ever said life was fair, but with a bit of cunning preparation, you can have fun and enjoy the festivities while also being ready to sail through your papers come the New Year.

It’s not an easy holiday during which to study. There’s a lot going on: you may be away or your family may have a houseful of guests, or you may be involved in sporting, musical or church events. You could even be juggling a part-time holiday job.

Here are our top tips for keeping things ticking over:

  • Prepare now

As well as getting as much work done as possible before the break, think now about how you will use the vacation, and get your books and notes organised so you don’t leave anything behind at school over the holiday – or lug home anything you don’t need.

  • Use ‘dead’ time productively

Be efficient when not much else is going on, whether that’s using a train or car journey to catch up on some reading, getting up an hour earlier than everyone else (if you can bear to!) and making the most of a quiet house, or perhaps grabbing a couple of hours to revise when the rest of the family is watching TV.

  • Plan study days in advance – and let people know

Decide which family activities or meet-ups with friends you absolutely don’t want to miss, or shouldn’t, and which you can skip. If there’s, say, a planned bowling or cinema excursion with people you’re spending plenty of time with anyway, and which you’re not too fussed about, revise instead.

Put ‘study days’ in the family calendar, and warn people in advance so they can give you the space you need, test you on a topic or gently admonish you if you stray too far from your desk!

  • Find a quieter environment if necessary

A noisy festive house may not be the most conducive setting for productive study. If you need more peace and quiet, decamp temporarily to a friend’s house, library or coffee shop.

  • Try the little and often approach

If circumstances – or your concentration span – mean you can’t spend whole days studying, try working little but often, snatching a couple of hours here and there between other activities. This gives you flexibility, and could work particularly well if you think you may struggle to focus for longer periods.

  • Combine festive rewards with exercise

It’s an excellent time of year for rich rewards, from mince pies to chocolates to slices of yummy yule log. These can be great incentives for a completed study session – but, equally, make time for daily 30-minute power walks to boost your concentration. Christmas can be a predominantly sedentary time of year, and of course the days are short, but get out regularly for a brisk blast of exercise and you’ll feel the benefit.

  • Ask Santa for some new stationery

Not all your presents have to be work-related, but perhaps a few items of snazzy stationery (ranging from a fancy binder to a fresh notebook or a new pen) could make revising, if not fun exactly, at least more interesting. Better still, if you’re keen to improve your writing skills in 2020, why not ask for a journal? Writing regularly offers many benefits, as this article from The Huffington Post explains.

One final tip…

Finally, remember this is a marathon not a sprint. As a bare minimum, keep Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day free to have fun, switch off and make the most of the holiday. You’ll feel the benefit in the long weeks ahead.

In short, draw up a realistic revision plan for the festive period now – but most importantly, don’t spend all of it working. Happy Christmas!



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