Whichever year of University you’re in, whether a fresher or a PhD student, whatever you’re studying, there’s a very good chance that you have work to do over the holidays. Whether it’s an essay deadline, exam revision or lots of reading, there is plenty of University work to be busying yourself with over Christmas.
But finding the drive to do work over the festive period is difficult. With so much going on – Christmas shopping, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve etc – it’s easy to forget all about University for a few weeks and kick back and relax. And you definitely should, the holidays exist for a reason.
However, as much as you’d like to, you shouldn’t ignore all your looming deadlines for the entire break. So, with that in mind, we’ve got some helpful tips and tricks to keep you motivated to complete that work, even with all the festive distractions going on.
The Christmas holidays are not very rigidly planned for most people. Apart from Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, the rest of your days off as a student can be totally up in the air. There will be parties, group meals, trips to markets and all manner of days out with friends and family. If you set yourself a rigid timetable for work, you’ll either end up missing out on fun times or not getting any work done at all.
Keep yourself as open and flexible as possible. If you intended to do some reading but you ended up going ice skating instead, try and find time to catch up the next day or later in the week. Don’t stress too much if your plans change at the last minute.
One sure fire way to kill your motivation is trying to do too much in too little time. Let’s be honest, if you’ve still not started that dissertation yet, you’re not going to get the bulk of it done over Christmas. It’s just not going to happen.
Setting yourself unrealistic goals will only serve to cause you distress when you realise there just isn’t enough time after you’ve done everything you want to do during the holidays. Instead, try to be more realistic in your approach.
Consider how many free days you will have away from parties and festivities, and how many of those you will likely be able to get some work done. Compare that with how long it typically takes you to do some reading or write sections of an essay; how much work are you realistically likely to get done in that time?
If you keep your expectations grounded, you’re more likely to succeed. The Christmas holidays are for relaxing and having fun, so don’t stress yourself out with unrealistic essay wordcounts.
If you received some great presents this year, you could utilise these to motivate yourself to do work. Did you get that new PS4 game you’ve been waiting for all year? Instead of playing it all day, try rewarding yourself with game time for doing some of your University work. Half an hour of essay writing could be followed by an hour of game play, or finishing a chapter of your dissertation could be rewarded with endless game play for the rest of the day.
If you were gifted mountains of your favourite chocolate, use it as reading motivation. A square of chocolate for every page read, or a bar for every finished paper. Incentivising yourself is a great way to kick start your work habits. And if you find the temptation too difficult, ask your parents or a sibling to help you stick to it.
Prepare for the Holidays
The internet might be incredibly helpful for a lot of things, but it can often fall short when it comes to finding accessible academic papers and books. If you don’t equip yourself with any learning tools before you head home, you’re going to find it a struggle to get any work done. Make sure you prep before you go, either by checking books out of the library or scanning copies of relevant chapters that you need for your work to take home with you.
Work with Friends
When you reunite with your old friends from home, you’ll often find they’re in the same boat as you. Whilst you may all be studying completely different things, working together as group can still serve well as a motivator. It’s a great way to combine productive work with a fun activity. Organise a work session with your friends and motivate each other to keep going. You’ll have people to proofread your work for you (even if the subject is out of their expertise), and afterwards you can always go for drinks or watch a film as a reward for a day’s hard work.
From everyone here at Student Housing Lancaster, we hope you have a fantastic Christmas break. Relax and unwind, get some work done, and we’ll see you in the New Year when you head back to your student accommodation in Lancaster.