The winter holidays are a much-anticipated break for everyone, particularly for school and college students. It’s an opportunity to get some much-needed rest and refresh their minds. Afterward, students can get back to class, full of strength and inspiration. While relaxation is essential during this period, it is also possible to have a productive holiday period and get on top of your studies.
Our experts offer you a list of useful tips on striking that work and life balance in the festive environment, surrounded by Christmas lights and ugly sweaters.
In this article, we’ll tell you:
- Why you should keep your brain busy over your well-deserved winter break.
- How to bring yourself to study during holidays without procrastinating.
- How to occupy yourself with productive yet fun activities.
So, enjoy the article, keep the recommendations in mind, and happy holidays!
💎 5 Hidden Gems of Studying during Holidays
The holidays! That season! The gifts! The time to relax and enjoy family and friends. What could be better? It is also a much-needed break from school. After 2020, all of us need it.
However, studying during university breaks can benefit you greatly as a student. No one assumes you should spend all your free time doing it, but finding some time to learn can help you enjoy an easier start to the new semester.
Here are five reasons why it’s worth studying during the holidays:
1. Keeping your brain occupied.
The mind is like a muscle. Just like any other muscle, it needs activity and training to perform effectively. Studying during your break, you’ll quickly adjust when you go back to school. It is especially critical in some situations, for example:
- If your finals are after the break;
- If it’s your last semester before graduation;
- If you have a year-long research paper or thesis to write.
2. You are learning at your own pace.
Having no deadlines or assignments can allow you to extend and deepen your knowledge.
- During the break, there is plenty of time to focus on what interests you. It could be an article your instructor recommended or a book you have always wanted to read. Whatever it is, now you have some free time, and with social distancing requirements, it might be the best option.
Another good tip is to go through the syllabus and the literature list for the classes you have just taken. Mark the readings you liked the most and read more on the same subject matter.
- Better chances to be well prepared for the finals. Most students will be done with the finals by the beginning of the winter break. However, there are some schools where students pass their finals afterward. If that’s how it is at your institution, then consider studying during the holidays.
The earlier you start, the more prepared you will be. Remember that it is not about how much you learn, but how regularly you do it.
3. Good routine.
You probably have a good study routine throughout the school year. It helps you to stay busy and focused on your goals. During your winter break, maintaining a study routine can be helpful as well. You can try to set up study goals too—it does not matter how big or small they are. Plus, there are some other benefits:
- It’s a great habit to have. The more you study—the easier it gets.
- It’s good for your mental health. It is one of the long-term benefits of creating a healthy study habit. It can also help you avoid procrastination and demotivation.
- It can help you to adjust to the semester quicker.
4. Freedom to study.
When you have the opportunity to choose what to study, you learn better. You might know that some schools offer winter classes for those who want to take credits during the winter break. You can also check out the available courses for the next semester and preselect some that interest you. If there are no winter classes, you can use other website resources or learn a new skill.
5. Never taking fun for granted.
What‘s better than taking a break after some hard work? It is much more pleasant to watch a movie with your family or play board games if you feel accomplished. You appreciate it much more when you work for it.
📝 How to Make Your Holidays Productive: Step-by-Step
Even if you’ve decided to study during the holidays, it might be challenging to force yourself to do so. It can be hard to concentrate in a festive atmosphere, especially when another Christmas movie from childhood is being uploaded on a streaming service.
So how do you start studying? We’ve prepared a step-by-step guide for you on how to be productive on vacation.
💪 Get Motivated
One of the biggest challenges of studying during vacation is finding the motivation to do so. So, here is a list of what you need to do to find the motivation to learn and keep it up throughout the holidays.
- Evaluate what you have to learn or complete. Take a sheet of paper and write down tasks that you need to complete. Make an overview of everything you have to or want to do. It doesn’t take much time. By doing so, you will be one step closer to finishing your tasks.
- Consider the consequences of not doing so. What happens if the task isn’t done? Or if you leave it until later? Take a minute to think about the consequences if you fail to complete an assignment or prepare for exams. Such an approach will motivate you to work and help prioritize your tasks.
- Make a checklist of tasks. Create one in a spreadsheet or any other format convenient for you. Write down everything you need to do. You can write down additional details, like due dates or subtasks. Crossing completed items off a list can be very motivating.
- Come up with rewards. Don’t forget to reward yourself while studying. If you promise yourself a little treat for every completed task, you will have more motivation to do it. The rewards can be different: from a small snack to a whole retail therapy. Just remember not to go overboard with prizes!
- Set up a timer.Devote short periods for studying, restricting yourself with phone notifications. Think of it as a break between classes. Set a timer on your phone or laptop not to miss when to stop studying or resting. That way, it will help you use your time effectively and save you from procrastinating.
📅 Create a Schedule
Time management is a key to successful learning over the break. Planning helps to stay disciplined and focused on studying. In other words, the best way to organize your work is to create a schedule.
Due to the worldwide pandemic, the majority of schools and colleges operate in an online mode. People got used to working from their homes. This winter break, it might be easier to manage to study during the holidays than before. Still, without scheduled classes, you may get too relaxed and unmotivated.
What is the solution?
To create a schedule and maintain your work-rest balance effectively. Take a look at the following sections to learn useful tips on organizing your study process.
Time Management 101
While studying in a college, the institution organizes a student’s life. Everyone just follows the class schedule without an opportunity to change anything. However, when it comes to a break, the students get complete freedom.
Yet, here are some pitfalls. Having too much free time may result in hours of procrastination and loss of motivation. So, how to be productive and manage your time over the winter break?
- Find an appropriate time for studying.
- Listen to your organism. Figure out when you are the most comfortable to learn new information. Are you a morning or an evening person? At what hours your brain is more likely to be active? Relying on your findings, devote the time when you are the most productive to study. Don’t forget to rest when your brain is incapable of working to its fullest.
- Divide your lessons. Consider fitting your studying in small chunks of time between different activities. Learning the entire topic for 4-5 hours in a row “just to memorize” is a widespread practice among students. But is it effective? Not really. Better divide your work into small chunks and learn the material gradually. Also, combine studying with leisure to let your brain refresh between the study sessions.
- Make a study plan for every day.
- Put together a list of tasks. You should’ve already made one during the previous stage. If you didn’t, do it now. List everything you need to learn, complete, and revise over the holidays. Remember, planning is a powerful tool to reach success. So, never skip this step.
- Make a schedule for every study day. Like in college or school, try to dive into different subjects each day. Study shows that it helps with data retention. Divide the material into chunks and learn a small piece every day. This way the information will remain in your brain much longer.
- Set realistic goals. Don’t even consider finishing everything at one go. You are not a robot—your brain needs rest and refreshment. Take things slowly, enjoy the process, and don’t overwhelm yourself. Plan what topic you are going to study on what day and follow your schedule. Only in this case you will achieve your academic goals.
- Prioritize tasks. It comes directly from the previous tip. You should understand what plans or assignments are more important at the moment or you and concentrate on them. Don’t try to do everything at once. By spacing out the material, you increase the chance of comprehending the information better.
- Reserve time for breaks during learning sessions.
- Don’t study for hours without a break. It will only mess with your holidays and get you more distressed. Plan your time wisely. Although studying is a crucial element of life, rest should take a significant place. Include entertainment in your schedule and make your holidays both productive and unforgettable.
- Don’t try to stay busy all the time. Keep in mind that you are still on holiday. Do you want to spend your winter break surrounded by textbooks? Fit a free day in your schedule, and don’t let studying interfere with group activities.
There are a lot of ideas on how to spend the winter holidays. You can bake gingerbread, decorate your house, watch a Christmas movie with your family, or make a fantastic winter photoshoot.
Top 10 Planner Apps
Still doubting your scheduling skills? It’s not a problem. We can help you even with that.
Below, you can find the top 10 planning apps. Choose your favorite, install it on your smartphone, and don’t worry about scheduling during the holidays.
Plan your week with this app, and don’t be afraid to miss an important deadline. This Weekly Planner lets the user add, remove, or edit events, so you will always stay tuned. Schedule your holidays and have an enjoyable and productive winter break.
A perfect app if you are searching for a digital planner that would remind you of your tasks. Several pleasant bonuses:
- progress calculation;
- organizing tasks in different folders;
- auto moving uncompleted tasks for the next day.
It’s an excellent choice for those searching for an app to manage their daily routines better. The app allows creating tasks and events and setting reminders. Also, it synchronizes with Google calendar, so you don’t need to transfer the events manually. Planner Pro will do it for you!
A full-featured app that helps you to organize your daily tasks and form new positive habits. Yet, it’s not just for scheduling. It also keeps track of your nutrition and the amount of water you drink. Plan your life and stay healthy with Daily Planner.
Seeking to organize your work effectively but never succeeded in it? Try the mobile app TimeTune. It offers full customization for each task. By setting unique features for each event, you will never get lost in your routine.
A simple but handy app to organize your work. Just create an event and get a notification on time. Moreover, Dreamie Planner connects to your existing calendar and transfers data.
An innovative and original app that keeps track of your activities and manages your time. Why is it unique? The app displays a list of tasks for the day in the form of a 12-hour dial. Thus, you will be able to visualize your plans and complete all the assignments on time.
Do your attempts to fit all of your tasks in one day always turn into a real struggle? Try Time Planner and see that scheduling is easier than you think it is. The app puts your events in different bubbles, prioritizing them depending on their significance. You will have a clear image of what you have done and what you still need to complete.
This is a perfect option for those who want to break big tasks into small subtasks. The app manages events, sends notifications, and creates a practical plan for completing the tasks quickly.
TickTick is a useful manager that organizes work, studying, and home routine. It allows the instant share of your plans with your family, friends, and colleagues. Don’t waste your time on meetings or phone calls to negotiate with other people. Install TickTick, manage your events, and save your precious time.
📍 Find a Location
Once you figured out the planning part of the process, it’s time to set up an office at home. Before the pandemic, you could’ve gone to a cafe or a library to study. Now, it might not be the option you’re looking for. Creating a study space at home can be safer and better.
Here is how:
- Do not study in your bed.
Your bed is the most comfortable place for you. It’s great for resting and getting your energy levels back. However, it is one of the worst places to study. Why? According to the studies, there are two reasons for that:
- Studying in bed limits your focus. A comfortable environment will make you want to sleep. This way your efforts are doomed from the beginning.
- Studying in bed will damage your sleep. Your body and mind associate your bed with rest. When you decide to go to sleep, your brain will continue thinking.
Besides, studying in bed can considerably harm your back. You should look for a desk or table to sit straight.
- Find a place at home where you’ll study.
The first thing you have to do is find a suitable chair and a desk. Place it in the quietest and most isolated corner of the house. Throw away all the unneeded stuff and make it neat and pleasant. Arrange all the study supplies and set up a laptop station.
Once you go into your study room, there will be no need to procrastinate. Choose what works best for you. Some people study better when they change places. If that’s the case with you, think about investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
- Decorate it and make it comfy.
The first step is to remove all the unnecessary objects. Please keep what you need or arrange to have easy access to it. Things that you might need:
- Healthy snacks, tea, or coffee;
- Writing supplies;
- A comfy chair;
- A good lamp.
You can try to experiment with different lights. The best type is daylight, of course. If you prefer to study in the evening, then get yourself a good lamp or Christmas lights.
Don’t be afraid to add some festive touches to your study area. It can be a funny mug, thinking pad with a Christmas tree, or a small decoration on your desk. The goal is to make your study area as comfortable as possible for you.
- Have easy access to everything you need.
As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to have everything you need nearby. First of all, you will not waste any of your time looking for it. Second of all, it will help you to focus longer on your goals.
Studying during the break is not an easy task in itself. There are many distractions during the holiday season. Having things you need at the reach of your hand can help you accomplish more.
- Remove all the distractions.
When you set aside time for studying, try to be as focused as possible. Removing distractions can benefit you. Start by closing all the useless laptop tabs. Then hide your phone and other electronic devices. Don’t forget to switch off the TV if it’s playing in the background. For better focus, kindly ask people to leave the study space.
Keeping your study space neat and clean is essential as well. An unclean environment can hurt your inspiration.
📻 Turn up the Music
Myths surround the effects of listening to music. Some claim that music can only distract from learning, which may be true but not for everyone. Some people believe in The Mozart Effect. It‘s an idea that listening to classics makes a person smarter. This effect, alas, has not been confirmed by science. However, music can help students learn (especially during the holidays).
So, what are the benefits of listening to music?
- Helps to reduce stress and pain. Listening to music decreases cortisol levels, which is the hormone of stress. Besides, it is a great way to process emotions and deal with them in one’s unique way. Controlling your anxiety becomes more manageable. And what about that pounding headache? Music was found to help the body ease the perceived pain.
- Makes you concentrate on the studies. Music helps you pay more attention to the material. Soothing beats or classical music can help categorize information, eliminating the number of distractions.
- Boosts your mood and memory. Music increases dopamine levels, which is responsible for your positive mindset. So, you become more relaxed and content, which leads to a better memorization of the material. Ever wondered why it’s easy to remember the lyrics of a song? It depends on how effectively your brain processes the music’s patterns and emotions you experience while listening.
- Improves brain function and performance. Proper tunes in the background may enhance your performance on cognitive tasks. The mechanism is quite simple: you improve your emotional state by listening to music, and then you show better brain performance. Moreover, listening to upbeat tunes can help you take action in high-pressure situations.
We also mentioned above that disadvantages of listening to music during studying still exist for some students:
- Music can affect cognitive processing. Some students can have difficulties with cognitive tasks when there is music in the background. If you are trying to concentrate on papers or midterms, loud or fast tunes can distract you from studying. Also, if you have a hard time rearranging information, listening to something can make the process harder.
- Music can lower reading comprehension. Understanding book material can be challenging if you listen to music. If you’re trying to concentrate on the material, fast beats or lyrics can distract you. In case you want to listen to music nonetheless, try choosing something more soothing.
These effects are individual, so we highly recommend trying to turn up the music while studying. In case you can’t concentrate, you can always turn it off. Otherwise, you will discover a great way to stay tuned and motivated.
Also, you can immediately play the music to which it is best to learn:
- Music without lyrics.
Reading a book or writing an essay? Then, you don’t need any additional words in your head. Try listening to classical music or instrumental versions of your favorite songs.
- Sounds of nature.
Studying in a loud environment can be challenging. Listening to sounds of nature, such as waterfalls or rain, can relax you a bit. That way, you will enhance your cognitive abilities and focus on studying.
- Music that doesn’t provoke strong emotions.
If you listen to a song you usually party or cry to, chances are pretty low that you will concentrate on studying. Choose pieces that you are not familiar with or don’t get energized by. No strong emotions, no distractions.
📱 Study with Friends
In the year 2020, everybody is dealing with the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. On a lockdown for a long time, many students have not seen their friends for weeks or even months. Don’t you miss them?
We have an idea on how to stay in touch with your friends and spend quality time together. Try to organize group studying sessions. Connect with your friends in Zoom and see how exciting your learning process might be.
Why is it worth doing?
- Zoom calls and communications can help you focus.
Once you are connected to a Zoom meeting, you will stay focused on your studies. And your friends will help you with that. Discussing different issues, investigating topics, and arguing on different viewpoints, you won’t even notice how the time goes.
- Friends minimize distractions, creating a study environment.
How many times were you planning to study but ended up scrolling over social media? Well, with a study group, this won’t happen. It’s like you’re in class, but only with people that you like. Agree on a specific time, connect with your friends, and dive deep into the course material. You won’t get distracted because the presence of your groupmates won’t allow you to.
- Other people’s involvement motivates you to stay on schedule.
While studying in a group, you are accountable not only for yourself. Your groupmates are also dependent on you. Send your laziness away and get in touch with your friends at the assigned time. This is an effective way to practice your time management skills.
- Discussions can help you understand the subject or topic.
Study groups create a fruitful environment for the discussions and help you to comprehend the material. You can share your knowledge with your friends or ask them some questions. Also, by exploring the topics from different perspectives, you will retain information.
As you see, study sessions with friends bring plenty of benefits and opportunities. However, sometimes it would be better to learn the material alone. So, how to figure out whether studying in groups is useful or not? Here are two cases when Zoom calls might be disadvantageous for you.
- Too talkative group members. Yes, it’s hard to resist the temptation to discuss the latest news with your friends. But learn how to separate work from leisure. You could take breaks between the study sessions and communicate with your groupmates. If you see that your study buddies are not focused and only distract you, leave them.
- Your inability to concentrate. Are you that kind of a person who needs complete quietness while learning something new? Are you incapable of comprehending the new material in a group? Then, Zoom calls are not for you. Concentrate on individual learning and spend time with your friends only for entertainment.
Nevertheless, the pros of study groups outweigh the cons. Don’t miss your chance to try something new! Call your friends and start exploring new things together. It’s always worth giving a try.
🎄 13 Fun Activities to Stay Productive
Now, as we’ve talked about studying during the winter holidays, let’s finally discuss leisure options. The year 2020 was tough—nobody would argue that. Don’t miss your chance to relax during Christmas break. The winter holidays are a perfect opportunity to refresh your mind from all the worries accumulated throughout the year.
Yet, remember about the Coronavirus pandemic that is still progressing throughout the globe. Your health should be your top priority. So, plan your leisure time wisely and follow social distancing rules.
We have prepared a list of exciting activities for the upcoming winter break. Our ideas will help you relax, keep your brain in tonus, and, most importantly, stay safe during the pandemic. Get ready to have an unforgettable winter break!
- Try educational YouTube videos.
YouTube is the ultimate source of information. Here, you can find diverse videos that would fit your interests. Search for something you are interested in and spend your time usefully.
For example, watch some short documentaries about the planet, nature, or technological progress. Are you a creative person? YouTube is full of DIY videos! Alternatively, find makeup or cooking tutorials and learn something new. Not sure where to start? Watch this insightful video about the environment:
- Start learning a new language.
“As many languages you know, as many times you are a human being.”
– Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
So, why don’t you use the winter break to learn a new language and upgrade your personality? Stay home, learn another language, and be safe!
Here are useful resources for language learning:
- Volunteer online.
Volunteering is a beneficial experience for your future career perspectives. Here, you can establish valuable connections and develop a useful set of skills. Volunteering online is a perfect option for the “pandemic-like” winter holidays 2020-2021. Seeking to get new knowledge? Consider the following volunteering options:
- United Nations Volunteers. UN Volunteers is a multinational organization that strives for sustainable development. Do you want to contribute? Join it now!
- VolunteerMatch. VolunteerMatch offers a broad spectrum of work opportunities. Here, you can find job positions related to human rights, advocacy, technologies, arts, culture, etc.
- Create the Good. Provide your skillset, and the website will help you to find an appropriate job position. Share your passion and contribute to social development with this volunteering organization.
- Be My Eyes. The volunteering organization aims to help blind and low-vision people all around the globe. Become a helper to someone who needs your assistance.
- Do IT. It’s a massive database with various volunteering opportunities. While searching for online volunteering options, apply a “do it from home” filter.
- Watch documentaries.
Another way to spend quality time during holidays is to expand your horizons by watching documentaries. This is an exciting way to explore new things. We have selected fascinating movies for you. Bookmark this page not to lose them!
Search for them on YouTube:
- Adam Ruins Everything is a fun way to learn about common misconceptions and stereotypes.
- Drunk History is an educational, historical comedy that will remain in your memory.
- The Corporation (2003) is a perfect choice for those interested in the social and economic environment of the world.
Find them on Netflix:
- Planet Earth. Wondering how climate change affects all living creatures? Watch this movie!
- Connected: The Hidden Science of Everything (2020). Everything and everybody in this Universe is connected. Watch this documentary to understand how.
- The Social Dilemma. Today, social media rules the world. Don’t you believe it? Watch this documentary for proof.
- Human Nature. It’s a must-watch documentary for those who are interested in gene-editing processes.
Exercising at home is “Doing Sports: 2020 edition.” During the lockdown, gyms aren’t working, but your apartment may become a workout place. Here are some useful online workout resources. Use them to stay healthy during the holidays:
- Redecorate your room.
Often, just simple changes in interior design transform the entire look of the room. Add more holiday spirit and boost your Christmas mood by decorating your room or even the whole house.
Lacking ideas? Get inspiration from these sources:
- Try new recipes.
The winter break is a time for experiments…and tasty food! But what about connecting these pleasures and trying new recipes? Make it even more exciting and cook some dishes from different movies. Check this article, choose the most mouth-watering dish, and cook it. Enjoy your meal!
- Improve your skills or gain new ones.
Do you have a hobby? Practice it more and become a real expert in your field. Watch tutorials, read useful articles, and upgrade your skills. Start loving your hobby even more over the break.
A book can become your best friend during the upcoming winter holidays. There are plenty of online sources where you can get a book for free. Though, the greatest challenge is to find an indeed fascinating one. Here are some ideas:
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – a fascinating historical novel from an Australian writer.
- One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus – a mystery novel that will keep you intrigued till the very end.
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – a heartwarming love story that won’t leave you indifferent.
- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – a dynamic novel about social norms and tensions.
- Take an online course.
Being a busy student, you probably don’t have time for additional courses during the semester. This time, don’t make any excuses. It’s a break, you don’t have classes, and the Coronavirus pandemic is raging outside. Why don’t you stay at home and take an online course? Study SMM, marketing, photography production, etc. Invest in your self-development!
- Get a hobby.
Do you have a hobby? It’s time to get it! Photography, drawing, singing, embroidering, beading… Choose something you are really into, watch tutorials, and master new talents.
- Create a website.
In the digital era, having web design skills is very beneficial. So, use your holidays to practice these skills. Create a simple website, for example, your portfolio or personal blog. Who knows, maybe in the future it will become profitable for you.
- Try new board games.
Board games are not only chess and monopoly. There is a vast diversity of different games for cozy winter evenings or noisy parties. Here are some of them:
- The Game of Life
- Apples to Apples
Thank you for visiting our page. Here is another good activity for you—check out our other insightful articles. Share this one with your friends and have unforgettable holidays!