Work Smart, Not Hard: Balancing Work and The Festivities

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University Christmas break… but is it? With deadlines and exams looming in January it is likely that you too will be spending a large proportion of your ‘Christmas holiday’ studying, revising and reading.

But Christmas is the time when everyone gets together, with friends from home planning catch ups and obligatory family events seem to take up the whole week between Christmas to New Years. 

Don’t be the person that has to cram in revision and coursework writing all in mid-January. 

I am a firm believer that you don’t have to work hard all-day every day to do well, but you do need to master balance in order to avoid being left with no option but to pull long days in the library days before your exams and deadlines.

Using these six tips, you will be able to manage your workload, as well as enjoy time with your family, friends and take a bit of time out for yourself, too. 

Short, efficient study bursts 

When you dedicate your time to work, study in short bursts. This is more effective than trying to stay focused for 12 hours at a time. Instead of saying to yourself that you must work all day, dedicate a slot of 2-3 hours at a time. This way you will stay focused, motivated and productive. You need to allow time for other things in your day, whether that be socialising, exercising or relaxing. If you need extra help, the app ‘Forest’ is a great tool to avoid being distracted by your phone.

Find where you work best and go there 

Everyone has a place where they are most productive. Find this place and only study in this place. Trying to work in a busy kitchen or living room where you will be constantly distracted is an inefficient and pointless use of your time. Quiet, clear spaces are the best and least distracting places. Head to the nearest library, a coffee shop or your home study. You should change up your work environment too to keep things interesting to avoid things becoming boring.

Know when to say no

Be realistic about how many social events you can say yes to. Whilst you should not be missing out on events with friends and family, if there are opportunities most days, then it is likely that you will need to sometimes prioritie your work. Schedule in the important dates so you can study around them and know when you are too busy to say no to another night out.

Start early 

You will thank yourself in January if you head home and make a start on your work before Christmas. Given that the holidays start on the 14th December, you have at least a week before most festivities begin. It is too easy to adopt the “I have a month, so I’ll start next week” mindset. Don’t put off your tasks until after Christmas, utilise the first week off to get a head start on revision and reading for coursework, you won’t regret it.

Make a plan!

Everyone has heard the saying ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’, it couldn’t be truer. Create yourself a plan for the month at home, scheduling in important events with friends and family and fit in your work around it. Take an overview of the month, think about how much you realistically need to get done and assign slots for each task or module. This will allow you to have time for social events and also know when you need to crack on with work. Be realistic!

Take breaks that actually relax you

If you find yourself procrastinating, take a long walk. Exercise is the most effective way to give yourself a mental break but listening to music, spending time with people and being creative are also great. Remember that doing exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym, try yoga at home or go for a swim.

Follow these tips to avoid letting deadlines and exams dampen your Christmas vibes and relaxation time.

Jasmine Davis