William Wadsworth

by William Wadsworth

The Cambridge-educated memory psychologist & study coach on a mission to help YOU ace your exams. Helping half a million students in 175+ countries every year to study smarter, not harder. Supercharge your studies today with our time-saving, grade-boosting “genius” study tips sheet.

Got study plans this Christmas? You’re not alone. Whether you’re writing coursework, reading for a dissertation, or revising for exams, you and millions of other students around the world are preparing to get a bit of work done this holiday season.

Getting the balance between work, rest and fun right isn’t always easy at this time of year, so we’ve put together a few festive productivity ideas to get you on your way.

1. Don’t They Know It’s Christmas and that I’ve got work to do?

Balancing family time with study time can be tricky.

If this is likely to be a problem for you, you’re going to need a plan:

  1. Draw up a table for each day over the holidays, days across the top, times of day down the side (could be as simple as 3 rows for “morning / afternoon / evening”)
  2. Check in with your family and friends to find out what they have planned over the festive season. On your plan, mark in all the shared activities and social moments you’ll be involved in – visits from relatives, trips out, and so on.
  3. Cross off any days you won’t be working at all. For example, I always took Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day as total breaks from work.
  4. Where you see space in your schedule, you can plan in some study blocks. Make sure you’ve got enough time to get everything done: if it’s looking tight, consult your friends / family and see if you can excuse yourself from some activities.
  5. Share your plan with your family so they know when you intend to study, and can help you stick to it.

Your family is your team: help them to help you, help them be the wind at your back, not the spit in your face.

2. Santa Claus Is Going Into Town to find a coffee shop or library

Christmas can be a lot of fun, but all the people and the festivities could make it difficult to find quiet time to yourself sometimes.

If you’re struggling to get down to work, try getting out of the house, and settling down in a café or library for some quality time with your study books.

Easier said than done in many countries in 2020, so adapt advice accordingly depending on the rules where you are this year…

If all else fails, pop some music in your headphones and try to zone the distractions out!

3. Working In A Winter Wonderland

Aim for intense, sparklingly productive study sessions, leaving plenty of time to enjoy the holiday too.

Don’t fall into the trap of seeing weeks stretching out before you, and letting work expand to fill the time available.

Work with intensity, use high-quality study strategies like retrieval practice, and keep moving through that to-do list.

4. All I Want For Christmas…

is something to help me to study. If Santa is yet to finish his Christmas shopping for you, you could consider asking for something to support your studies.

Perhaps there are books related to your subject that you’d really enjoy, and would help keep your interest in the subject burning (more likely to be popular books on interesting side-topics than your core textbooks).

Or check out my suggestions for top books to help you study smarter and ace your exams in the New Year.

5. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year…

… to treat yourself after a good session studying.

The house is rarely so full of nice things to eat and fun things to do!

Taking a break between bouts of focused work? Maybe you’ve earned a mince pie or a bit of chocolate.

Done for the day? Celebrate with a good snowball fight (weather permitting!), by diving back into a Christmas video game, or by watching a favourite film with your family.

6. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow…

…. but be careful out there, especially if you’ve got exams in the New Year. A broken limb isn’t going to do you any favours! I’m not saying don’t go out and enjoy yourself – do! – just take it carefully.

And make sure you’re getting plenty of fruit, veg and water to keep your immune system fighting-fit, and follow all the advice on avoiding spreading or catching the coronavirus.

Look after your body, and it will look after you.

7. Have Yourself a Well-Earned Little Christmas Break!

Most importantly of all, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to unplug over the festive season.

Don’t be so ambitious with your work schedule that you have no time to relax and enjoy yourself.

You’ve got study goals, sure, but you need to recharge as well. My advice would be to decide in advance what your timetable will be for the holidays, and plan in some guilt-free time off.

Decide which days you’ll give yourself as total days off from work, and enjoy them!

The rest of the time, decide which times of day you’ll work, and have a clear stopping time each day. When you get to stopping time, stop. It’s a great motivator to get your head down and get your work done up to that point – so when you reach quitting time, kick back and chill out.


All our best wishes with your studies, and have a very happy holiday from Exam Study Expert!


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