5 Winter Break Study Tips Every Student Should Know
Are you getting ready for a great holiday break? While the time off is worth getting excited about, remember that your first job isn’t to be a lazy couch potato. If you are in college, it’s time to start thinking about your major as your job — that ticket to the career field that lies beyond graduation. If you’re a high school student, it’s your job to think about how you’re going to become a productive citizen. While a little laying around and overeating never hurt anybody, when that’s all you do for the two to three weeks of off-time that you have ahead, it can set you back severely in your plan to pass that test, get that A, etc.
That’s why we’ve racked our brains to come up with some essential winter break study tips to keep you alert and ready for action even as you catch up on Walking Dead. Here’s what we recommend.
One: Get to scheduling.
If you’re going into Christmas break without a plan, then you’re already behind the eight-ball. Remember, you are a professional now, or working toward it. Instead of allowing each day to unfold, hour-by-hour, in front of the TV playing Call of Duty, be more frugal with your time. Yes, it’s okay to schedule some time with the game controller in hand, but also schedule time for the other stuff as well. And by “other stuff,” we mean studies. Look over your time off. Compile a schedule of your family events. Plan your relaxation time. Plan your video game time. And last but certainly not least, plan your work time. One or two hours per day isn’t going to ruin anything about your holiday and it will keep your brain from atrophying. Some suggestions about what you might want to do with that one to two hours of study time you’ve pencilled in? Check your teacher/professor’s syllabus. See what assigned reading they may have on the horizon to start the new semester. Maybe it’s a classic piece of literature or a chapter out of your chemistry book. Block off a small amount of time that you will use only for studying.
Two: Don’t cheat yourself.
Be regimented about study time. If you’ve decided on an hour per day, then do an hour. Set your timer, sit down with a cup of coffee in a quiet place, put your head down, and get busy. When the timer goes off, stop working. Don’t allow yourself to get burned out. Do just enough work to keep the juices flowing. By the same token, don’t cut out on your scheduled time early. Being a good student and a success in life is all about discipline. If you’ve made an obligation to study time, fulfill it. The more you do, the easier it becomes.
Three: Take advantage of travel time.
Most of us do a lot of traveling over the holidays. If you’re not traveling alone and you can swing some alone time on a bus or plane or the back seat of the family car, use it to your advantage. If your major objective is to spend quality time with loved ones, then why not tackle work-related stuff when you have nothing else to do during those long road hours? That way, upon arriving at your destination, you can worry less about school and more about getting lost in the fun and celebration of another holiday season.
Four: Find the right environment.
You’d be surprised at just how relaxing and fun productivity can be when you’re at a favorite place working on your own time. Therefore, you might want to schedule your work time for a coffee shop or outdoors (provided it’s not too cold where you are). Cal Newport, on his invaluable study blog, recommends the local library. “It’s impossible to get significant work done when, in the other room, your siblings are in hour 4 of an all-day Wii marathon,” Newport notes. “To get things done: You have to get out of the house! A surprisingly effective place to work is the local library. They’re quiet. They have study cubicles. And they typically require a car ride to get there, so you are much less likely to stop working on a momentary whim.”
Five: End your vacation early.
If you’re in college, then this may mean heading back to campus for the last few days of break. If you’re in high school, a modified version would be getting back on the same sleep pattern a few days prior to the first day back to school. If you do nothing all break long, sleep in every day right up to the Sunday night before day one of the new semester, and then expect to be ready for the weeks ahead, you’re out of luck. Your brain can stagnate just like your body does when you go too long without working out. Remember that you are an adult or dangerously close to becoming one, and societal demands are getting tougher and tougher. To stand out from your peers, you’ll want to find ways of motivating yourself and getting things accomplished even if no one is forcing you to. Ending your vacation early is just one small way of setting yourself apart.
It’s certainly possible to have your cake and eat it, too, when it comes to staging a successful winter break without falling behind. By observing the tips presented here, you’ll be well on your way to a great spring semester. Good luck, and happy holidays!