How to Stick to Your Study Plan Over the Holidays

woman at laptop in front of Christmas tree

Hallelujah, it’s winter break! Congratulations on forging through and doing your best to stay on top of your studies. Now it’s time to sit back and relax while enjoying the festivities that the holiday season has to offer. 
 
While you’ve been working hard, studying incessantly, and focusing on your academics, it’s important that you take advantage of this break to rest, recharge, and get yourself prepared for what’s to come in the new year. 
 
The holiday break comes in all shapes and sizes for students, filled with opportunities for family time, getaways, festive parties, and maybe even some much-needed quiet time. To help you make the most of your break yet remain focused, here’s a holiday study plan that includes common distractions and a list of 15 tips on how to enjoy your two weeks of down time without losing sight of your goals. 

The holiday study plan

It’s easy to get lost in the grind. Work, family, study time, tests, papers, housework, and everything in between. But on the first day of winter break, it’s “you time.” 
 
Enjoy everything that comes along with the holiday season. Parties, gatherings, baking, decorating, gift giving, and time together as a family should rank high on your list of things to do this winter break. It only comes once a year, so take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with all the things you may have been missing as you’ve been focusing on your goals. 

The most common distractions students face over holiday break

While the holiday break provides some much-needed downtime and fun things to do on your own or with your family, there are still distractions that can impact how restful and relaxing your break can be. Here are some common distractions and what you can do to keep the happy in the holidays. 
 

  • Shopping till you’re dropping, literally – With all the huge sales, lists a mile long, the hundreds of toys that the kids want, and endless ads drawing you to stores everywhere, it can get a little crazy. Quality time with friends shopping can actually be refreshing; just avoid going crazy trying to get everything on your list in three days. Instead, try to break it up into manageable chunks with specific shopping goals.
  • Being a little too “merry” - There’s no lack of parties over the holiday season, whether at a local bar, restaurant, or other hangout, but spending every morning digging for the Tylenol and Alka-Seltzer isn’t re-energizing your brain. Take it easy, pace yourself, and as always, enjoy the holiday libations responsibly. 
  • Decking every single hall - Decorating can be cathartic and a great family activity. Unfortunately, as Clark Griswold found out, going over the top can leave you exhausted, stressed, and with some potential electrical burns. Don’t overdo it.
  • Forgetting the reason - December holidays hold different meanings to each person. What ties most of us together is that it’s a time for family and friends, as well as a time for reflection and thanks. Don’t get lost in the chaos and forget what your break is all about. 

How to stay distraction-free, productive, and focused over the winter holiday break 

At Ashford University, we want to help keep your mind in the right place during the winter break. To help you stay on track with your online degree, we put together the 15 best tips for enjoying your break while keeping you holiday study plan intact. 

15 tips for sticking to your study plan during holiday break  

1. Set goals: Even on break, you should still be working toward something. Organize your bookshelf, create a clutter free workspace, fix that creaky stair. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just do what you can to keep your mind goal-oriented.

2. Make a plan: Before the break starts, plan out your study time for the duration of the break and note what will be due shortly after coming back. 

3. Create a routine: Even though you won’t be working on school nearly as much, try to keep the rest of your routine the same. Dramatic changes in schedule can actually create stress and anxiety. So, keep going to yoga on Thursdays, clean on Tuesdays, and have pizza night as usual. 

4. Stay engaged: Taking a break from studying doesn’t mean eliminating school altogether. Stay engaged with Ashford University and your peers over the holiday break via social media and stay in the student mindset.

5. Have a honey-do list: Making a list of tasks that need to be done by yourself and the other members of the household will ensure things run smoothly and keep wandering minds focused. 

6. Don’t veg: Instead of using your free time to crash on the couch and binge watch holiday movies, focus on activities that keep the mind active, engage your kids, or improve your health. Things like a morning jog, sudoku and crossword puzzles, and building a snowman can help keep your mind and body more active. 

7. Unplug: Getting an online degree can mean looking at your computer for long durations. Not only that, your phone is probably next to you, and the TV might be playing in the background. Take the holiday break to limit yourself to one device at a time. Still find time to read an eBook, watch a show, or continue writing your future best seller, just try to not do all of it at once. 

8. Don’t spread yourself thin: The holidays can fill a daily planner fast. Don’t fall into the trap of booking yourself solid sunup to sundown. Prioritize and decide what’s important to you while leaving space in between for some down time. You probably don’t have to squeeze in your second cousin’s uncle’s friend’s holiday party this year. 

9. Declare a drama-free zone: Chances are you’ve been a little removed from the social scene lately. Now that you’ll be spending time with friends and family a little more, try to avoid gossip. It serves no purpose and will distract you from your goals. 

10. Keep family time in check: You love your family, but you also must know when too much is too much. Remember the opening scene from Home Alone? Having a house busting with guests can make you forget even your own kid, not to mention your priorities and that list you made to remain focused. 

11. Find your zen: Being social is important, but so is “me time.” Distractions are everywhere, so every now and then find a place that is quiet, dark, and tranquil. Even 15 minutes spent sitting in the silence can let the thoughts in your head calm down. You’ll emerge ready to go and with a clear mind. 

12. Study, occasionally: Our brains are wired to forget things we don’t use, or at least store them down there with your MySpace password. Periodically, log on to Ashford and sneak in some study time, just enough to keep the juices flowing and the information relevant. 

13. Kick it with the kids: While you’re setting a great example for your kids academically, we know that school can take some time away. Use this free time to reconnect with them. Find local shows or activities to take them to, build a snowman, or make some homemade ornaments. Time spent with our children is always worth it. 

14. Have fun: Life is serious, and being an adult can feel like a buzzkill. Let your guard down and do something fun. Have a snowball fight, play some harmless pranks, have an ugly sweater party. Whatever it is, just let your hair down and cut loose for a while. 

15. Stick to your holiday study plan: We want you to have fun, relax, and recharge the battery, but we don’t want you to come back to school lost. Stick to your plan, study occasionally, and stay engaged. 

Enjoy the winter break, and start getting yourself prepared for the well-deserved vacation. Once the break has begun, follow through on your preparations and use our tips as a guide to enjoy the holiday season without losing track of your academic goals. 

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By Ashford University staff

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