Like a sack of coal on Christmas morning – Studying over the silly season

If there’s one thing that drains that holiday cheer away quicker than your great Aunty Mildred drains her wine glass at Christmas dinner, it’s having to study or work during the Christmastime festivities. Most of you will be all too familiar with that feeling of ‘missing out’, when you’re forced to stay home and study instead of joining your friends or family at a get together, party or other event. It’s just so easy to be swept away by the distraction and temptation of it all.

The thing is though, you might miss out on a couple of exciting moments while you’re studying over the silly season, but if you forego your commitments in favour of frivolity, you’ll likely feel so guilty about it  that you won’t enjoy your distracting activity anyway! There can be a happy medium though, so in the interest of your future success, we have put together this list of tips on how to study over the silly season.

Pen it in

With invitations to office parties, social gatherings and family functions rolling in over the lead up to the holidays, everything can seem quite overwhelming for those who also have a heavy study schedule. The good news is, you don’t have to decline all of those exciting offers in order to pass your course. Instead, determine how many hours of study you’ll need to complete in a day / week / fortnight to remain on track and then work out whether you can fit social engagements in around your study time. If you’d like to attend your night time office party, for example, but you usually study at night, try to change your schedule to study in the morning, during your lunch break or double up on another night. If you have two invitations in one week but you only have time for one, prioritise which event is most important to you and sacrifice the other one. Regardless of how you schedule it, make sure you pen it into your calendar and stick to it. This will ensure you’re more likely to stick to your plans.

Find the right frame of mind

There’s so much to think about during the holiday period – which presents am I going to buy everyone, who’s cooking the turkey, which wine should I bring to the weekend BBQ and how do I stop Uncle Neville from drinking too much and flirting with my mother-in-law? The list goes on and on! It’s no wonder you’re having trouble studying with all those thoughts vying for your attention. In order to declutter your mind a bit, you again need to prioritise. Of all the thoughts playing on your mind, anything that’s urgent should be done immediately. If it’s not urgent, write it down in a to-do list and then deal with it after you have studied.

Be accountable

If there’s one thing that’s sure to keep you motivated to study, it’s knowing that someone else will hound you if you don’t do it. Whether it’s your partner, your parents, a friend or two or a study group, telling someone else how much you intend to do and by when will cause you to feel more accountable, increasing your chances of completing your task.

Similarly, if you can study with a fellow student or in a study group, you’ll find that you’re likely to get more done in less time, as distraction and procrastination is reduced (assuming you all have the same aims in mind, that is).

Take five

As determined as you may be, you’re not a machine and shouldn’t treat yourself like one. If you’re in one room trying to study but the sound of merriment from the gathering in the next room is driving you crazy, by all means, take a break and join in the festivities! Yes, you will have to limit yourself to a short break or double up next time you study, but at least that’s better than sitting there alone and ‘trying’ to study, but getting absolutely nothing done due to the distraction. Also ensure you take regular snack, bathroom and stretching breaks during a study session so that you stay refreshed and energised.

Give the gift that counts

You know that the reward at the end of your course will be a host of new skills, a certificate outlining your achievements, an improved resume and a sense of achievement, but your course completion date might be weeks, months or even years away – who wants to wait that long for a reward? Don’t! Instead, be sure to reward your efforts at regular intervals throughout your course. Whether you do something like treat yourself to a row of chocolate after a couple of hours of study, a box of chocolates at the end of a day of study, a bigger box of chocolates at the end of a week of study or an overseas trip to, say, a Swiss chocolate factory at the end of a month of study (what? I just really like chocolate!), you’ll feel more incentive to reach your study goals on time if you reward yourself along the way. It’s also a good idea to measure your learning achievements with a quiz or similar, before you reward yourself.


The CFS Team
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