Christmas: Work vs Play
For most, Christmas is a time for cheer, laughter, relaxation, guilt-free over-indulgence, endless Netflix binges, and lie-ins all round. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the student. With exams and deadlines fast approaching, Christmas can be a stressful time that isn’t oh-so-wonderful. And we completely appreciate that when you are surrounded by people living their best life, it is almost impossible not to follow suit and put aside your responsibilities. So, we have put a list together of things to do to help you get through this stressful holiday and ace your exams at the end of it all, whilst also having a bit of what they're having.
1. Set yourself goals and breaks. Setting yourself a break is the most important thing you can do to keep up your productivity. Studies have shown that the most productive people are those who give themselves a 10-minute break every hour. This is because those that do this work with intense purpose during the time they have set aside to work. In effect they treat the time working as a race towards a goal, which is the break.
2. Don’t ignore your procrastination habits. This one follows on - stay with us. We are not all programmed the same and so working for an hour and then taking a break isn’t going to work as well for all of us. Some of us can work for longer, others less. Do some work and watch how long it takes before you start to wander onto other things. Use this time as your gauge for planning your breaks. Listen to your body as you revise and build your routine around it, this is key to successful revision.
3. Prepare. This is important because it helps you plan your revision around your exams, however this technique has another importance around this time of year. Let’s face it, we all know we are going to take a couple of days of over Christmas to join the 'other side of living' who seem to be doing it right - pretty much either on the sofa or down the pub having a good time. You need to plan this into your revision timetable. Then you will be able to enjoy these days, this will be good for you as you will come back to your revision refreshed and ready to go. If you don’t plan, then you are going to be feeling guilty instead of having fun. Then you’re only going to come back to your revision feeling like the worst human being - which you're not, by the way.
4. Take smart breaks. It is important that on your break you get up and move away from your desk and laptop. What you want from your break is a quick refresh, so when it is over you feel good as new. Sitting for long periods of time and staring at screens (phone included, sorry) has a negative effective on your mental and physical health. Whereas getting up and taking a quick 5-10-minute walk helps to get you out your own head and gets the blood pumping around your body again. Better yet, as its Christmas, spend 5 minutes playing out in the snow (or rain, more likely - but whatever floats your boat).
5. Be kind to yourself. Take some days off over Christmas to actually have fun, see friends and family, and relax. Over-pushing yourself is going to make you suffer mentally and emotionally, and you will begin to panic by putting too much pressure on what you think you can achieve. The most productive work is always done with reward in mind!
6. Finally, find the right space. Many of you will go home for the holidays, and those that don’t will likely find large parts of their university is closed for the Christmas break. This might mean your normal revision spaces are not available to you. It is important that the new one that you choose is right. Your need to find a space where you can switch to your work and your work only, with minimal distractions. Places like your bedroom are unadvisable, keep the space you spend your downtime in separate from the space you revise in. Revising in spaces you relax in will only lead to lazy revision.
Stick to these 6 techniques and you will find yourself being able to manage the busy workload you have ahead of you. Remember, revision and essay writing is no short game and when you are in something for the long run it is better to work smart than work fast/hard. You got this, people. Merry Christmas and good luck in your exams!