With deadlines on the horizon, our Marketing and Communications crew member, Guillemette, talks about how to survive studying over the holidays…

Warm houses, bright lights and more food than a famished student could dream of; who doesn’t love Christmas? After a first semester made long by the absence of a half term, we are all looking forward to rushing back to home and its comforts.

But a cloud darkens the Christmas lights: exams and deadlines. Lecturers seem to forget that holidays are for relaxing and have laden you with coursework as well as the threat of January exams or deadlines looming in the distance.

Of course, it’s all very far away and the first few days are naturally passed in a haze of food and sleep. Christmas is the easiest time of the year to procrastinate – help needed in the kitchen, decorating the house, walking your beloved dog, wrapping presents etc… an unending list that is extremely effective in keeping you away from your desk. Before you know it, it is the beginning of January, exams are in two weeks and those lecture notes haven’t been looked at since the 16th….

To avoid this pitfall, here are a few tips and tricks:

  • Do your work early in the morning: By midday, your house is a whirlwind of activity and after a copious lunch, motivation will be at an all time low. The trick is to get up early and stay in your room to work. Your brain is alert and fresh, nobody will bother you and it ensures some work is done everyday. Of course, it may mean rearranging your (non-existent) student sleep pattern, but it will be worth it and means you can spend the evening with your family instead of worrying about the work you haven’t done.
  • Baby steps: Some of us face this holiday with the warrior spirit- ‘ I am going to do 5 hours of revision everyday, even on Christmas Day!’ As much as optimism and dedication to studying is encouraged, very few can keep to this sort of schedule. Make a realistic plan of what you need to do – if you know you work effectively for short periods of time, start revising early and do a little per day.
  • It’s easy to sit at your desk on your phone for several hours and count this as revision!: Turn off the phone and block your access to social media – instead of using hours as a guidance for amount of studying, maybe take another approach e.g. one lecture/book/section of an essay per day; you’d be surprised how easy things are when you are not constantly tracking how long you’re spending on it and the results are much more concrete than just vague ‘revision’.
  • Plan ahead: Find out which days your family and friends are coming to visit and put that in your work timetable – it’s obvious that essay isn’t going to get written when there is a raging Monopoly game to be won with the cousins. On the other hand, university deadlines are always a valid and respected excuse to escape the hoards descending on your house and Aunt Gertrude’s endless questions about your love life.
  • Stay fit!: Doing the daily migration between the kitchen and your desk isn’t exactly a physical feat and you’ll need something to ward off the mince pies. Walking the dog (or the neighbour’s dog!) will get you out of the house and clear your mind between revision and family sessions. If we are lucky enough to get snow, a good snowball fight is always the best solution to shake off the cobwebs and chocolate!

Working during Christmas is a chore and doesn’t get easier throughout your degree (trust a 4th year!) but it means you don’t have a massive cramming session when you go back to university. There is nothing more depressing than stepping back into your empty student house, with the weight of very close deadlines and the full knowledge that you have done absolutely nothing to prepare for them.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!