Study during holidays

15 Tips to Study Effectively During the Holidays

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Last Updated on April 22, 2024 by Alexandra Markin

As the holiday season approaches, the prospect of juggling festive celebrations with academic responsibility is a difficult balance for most students. You need to study during the holidays, but want to have fun too.

Between cozy nights by the fire, festive parties with loved ones and the aroma of freshly baked goods, study deadlines loom large.

As an online student who’s always had a self-directed course schedule, I’ve had years of experience with no choice but to study every holiday season to keep myself moving forward towards my goals.

With the right approach and a solid plan, you can absolutely achieve your study goals while savouring the joys of the season.

From how to manage your time to creating a conducive study environment amidst all the holiday cheer, these tips will help you make the most of your study sessions.

Should I Study During the Holidays?

The holidays bring on the classic series of questions: “Should I even bother to study during the holidays? If so, how can I keep myself motivated? Do most students study during the holidays?”

It’s the classic conundrum we all struggle with: we’re excited for the festivities, but we don’t know how to effectively manage both.

Why you should study during the holidays:

  • You have finals scheduled shortly after the break.
  • You need to improve on concepts you’re weak on.
  • You need to catch up.
  • You want to get ahead for the upcoming term.
  • You’re studying on a self-directed schedule and don’t have an “official” break.

It’s easy to forget what you’ve learned if you don’t keep practicing, even for a short two week break. The saying “Use it or loose it” is very true!

15 Tips to Help You Study Successfully During the Holidays

Major holidays like Easter, Christmas, Hanukkah and Ramadan require determination, willpower and a plan to meet your study goals.

No matter if you’re adult learner, a parent with small children or you’re traveling to see friends and family, this post will help you study effectively during the holidays.

1. Make Time for Your Studies

This one may seem obvious, but going into the holiday season with the mindset of actively making time for your studies is the first step to success.

This doesn’t mean giving up things you’re looking forward to however, but consciously saying no to events that you’re not super pumped about. If you don’t really want to attend that Boxing Day brunch but feel your family expects you to, have the strength to say no.

It’s your future you’re responsible for, and not the expectations of your parents, friends or anyone else. Recognize that saying no is an act of strength and honouring your personal goals.

Safeguard your energy during the holiday season – there’s more going on than you think.

2. Set Realistic Daily Study Goals

A day of festivity or recreation when no work is done.

– Definition of “holiday” from Oxford Languages

The official definition of the noun holiday says it all: they are meant to be enjoyed. It’s not realistic to say you’re going to study for 8+ hours every day during your break.

You also aren’t going to get through an entire chapter plus doing all the review questions in one day. I’ve tried, and there’s no way it’s doable no matter how short the chapter is. That’s just setting yourself up for disappointment to make yourself feel bad if you don’t meet your overly ambitious goals.

It also says A DAY, not your entire break. So if you want to come out of your holiday with accomplished tasks, don’t let break days roll into each other.

3. Create a Study Schedule

When creating a holiday study schedule, I’ve found a task-based schedule works best over a rigid time block schedule. This allows flexibility for fun events that inevitably pop up during the holidays.

Here’s how to create your holiday study schedule:

  1. Write down all the dates of known events and plan study around those. If you can, try and give yourself at least 1-2 days a week where you’re not at an event.
  2. List out all the urgent tasks you must complete by the end of your break and add those to your schedule.
  3. Make sure to include break days! I recommend adding full break days to coincide with major events, such as Christmas Day or Easter Sunday.

If you need some strategies to help you stick to your schedule, head to the post How to Build Self-Discipline as an Online Student.

4. Expect Disruptions

After you happily create your perfect holiday study schedule and start to dig in, be prepared to have some disruptions thrown in.

That unexpected party invite, a cousin coming into town at the last minute or drinking too many mimosas at the Breakfast With Santa Brunch are all examples of real situations that made me have to adjust my study plan. C’est la vie!

Embrace flexibility to enjoy the holidays.

5. Set Boundaries with Loved Ones

While spending time with family and friends is an important part of the holiday season, it’s crucial to communicate your academic priorities and the importance of dedicated study time.

By respectfully communicating your need for uninterrupted study time up front, you can better balance academic responsibilities and quality time with loved ones.

Let them know that your closed door means “I’m studying, please do not interrupt.” However, if your family is prone to barging in, you could even tape a sign to your door that says “Do not disturb, studying in progress” as a gentle reminder.

6. Have a Designated Study Area

Trying to study at the kitchen table while your family makes holiday cookies and drinks mulled wine isn’t going to be a very productive experience for you.

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, a designated study area provides a place free from distraction where you can concentrate on your studies.

Whether it’s a corner of your bedroom or your favourite library cubicle, having a dedicated study environment will help keep you motivated and focused.

If you’re traveling over the holiday season, seek out a space as soon as you arrive. It could mean renting a daily coworking space (such as a WeWork), finding a cozy coffee shop or studying on campus of the local university’s public library.

And just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to study in bed. It’s ok to do some reading or watch a lecture or two from under the comfort of your fluffy duvet, but do the majority of your studying at a proper table.

7. Get Studying Done Early

Even if you’re not a morning person, it might be worth it to get up a bit earlier during the holiday season as most events take place in the evening or at night.

Getting studying done early makes it easier to have fun come nighttime knowing you’ve completed all your tasks for the day. There are no thoughts of the tasks you need to do when you get home from that big dinner, which you know is just going to make you sleepy.

If you do plan to study at night, read the post Best Late Night Study Tips for College Students to help you succeed during holiday study!

8. Silence Distracting Devices

Whether it’s your phone, social media, email or the tv, turn them off (or put them on silent) to focus on you study session.

If social media on your phone is too tempting, put it away in your bag or use a study focus app like Forest that deters you from checking your messages.

9. Study in Small Chunks

When studying during the holidays, break your study sessions into small, manageable chunks.

By studying in shorter sessions, you can make efficient use of your time, retain more information and avoid the dread that you need to study for hours before you can join in on the festivities.

10. Schedule in Study Breaks

If you are doing longer study sessions, remember to schedule in study breaks. Study methods like the pomodoro study technique are great because they factor in regular break times to help you avoid study fatigue and session burnout.

11. Engage With Study Communities

Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean everyone is taking time off. Engage with your favourite studygram communities on Instagram to keep your motivation going!

Other study communities you can join:

  • Discord study groups
  • Your course’s online discussion forums
  • Facebook groups for your university, or general Facebook study groups

12. Get a Study Buddy

Getting together in person with another student not only carves out designated study time, but it also keeps you accountable – you’re less likely to blow off your friend if you’ve set up a time to meet. However, make sure it’s someone who you’ll actually study with, and not just sit and chat with your books open.

Or, if you have online study friends thanks to the study communities you’re in, set up a Zoom session!

If you don’t know any other students to meet with, arrange a study session with a friend who’s not in college but is doing self-study. Anyone who’s learning a language on Duolingo or taking courses through Coursera still needs to put in study hours.

13. Stay Organized if You’re Traveling

Many of us travel during the holidays, and some students travel cross-continental. Being organized at all times is the only way you’re going to be able to study effectively during the holidays.

Double check you have everything you need before you leave. This includes laptop and phone chargers, notebooks and calculators.

Use on the go study apps like Quizlet, and any apps like Pearson that contain digital textbooks should be downloaded and checked before you leave to ensure they can be used offline.

Use commute time, waiting time or flying time to squeeze in study. Every minute counts, and you’ll be surprised how much you can get done on your journey to your destination.

14. Incorporate Self-Care

Including self-care activities into your study routine is essential for maintaining physical and mental well-being, especially during the busy holiday season.

Amidst all the demands at this time of year, it’s easy to neglect yourself. However, not taking time out for your health leads to increased stress, exhaustion, and decreased productivity. Prioritizing self-care activities such as proper sleep, regular exercise and healthy nutrition not only rejuvenate your mind and body but also help to enhances cognitive function and learning ability.

So take that bubble bath with candles, buy those cozy flannel sheets and go for that walk when the sun is shining despite the snow on the ground. You’ll thank yourself for it, and don’t forget to bring your positive attitude!

See also: How to Stay Healthy as an Online Student: 9 Tips for Success

15. Reward Yourself

Tis’ the season after all, so keep in line with the gift giving and remember to reward yourself for your vast acheivements!

I love glossy print magazines, and my reward is often treating myself to a latest edition whenever I achieve a significant milestone.

Set those achievable study goals! When you reward yourself upon their completion, you create a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that fuels further progress, and in my case, adds to my magazine trophy shelf.

How to Study During the Holidays – Next Steps

Remember, the holidays are a time for celebration and connection. With a planning and commitment to your studies, you can make the most of any holiday season while achieving your academic success.

If you have any additional tips, please share in the comments! You never know how your suggestion could greatly help another student.

If you found this post helpful, sign up for my email list below and follow me on Instagram and Pinterest to join our online student community – you don’t have to go through your study journey alone!

Wishing you a safe and joyful holiday season filled with both learning and leisure!

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