As the festive season approaches, I hear a mix of sighs and laughter. Should we be happy that our schedules with our local university friends finally align and this is the potential opportunity to meet up again? On the flip side, after we celebrate Christmas, our alarm bells remind us of the May exams. For instance, in Singapore, lecturers count by the holidays and nag us about how after Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day, we are pretty much done with lessons for the academic year.
One common struggle we have is making our holidays productive. Here is my advice for doing just that; I hope you will find it useful.
1. Kickstart with healthy breakfasts
Enticed by the endless choices of coffee and fast food outlets as you make your way around town? A healthier breakfast will create a better start to your day. This is a new habit I formed since my internship days. I would treat myself to a serving of Chinese dumplings and substitute unhealthy drinks with a protein drink mixed with various fruits. In Singapore, a more common breakfast drink would be Milo!
Having a healthy meal will allow you to feel less guilty, especially when you have a hectic schedule ahead. More importantly, it fuels you with important nutrients and helps you in staying healthy. It’s important to be in shape and good condition so we can really enjoy the holidays!
2. Do the work you dread first
After breakfast, we are ready to start our day. Check your calendar and list out the tasks you have to do today. Identify the most dreaded task and get it out of the way. Even if you don’t manage to complete it fully, making some progress will definitely lift your mood.
For instance, I find the modules with heavy content memorisation such as Accounting Theory the most difficult. It is mostly factual and has minimal calculation. During revision slots, I would put accounting theory as a priority, especially when I am part of the first batch to take the module; which means having no past year papers to reference to.
3. Social media detox
Speaking of studying for exams, social media is like everyone’s cookie monster. We need to put our phones down and resist the urge of checking social media updates. I found this to be useful as it kept me away from distractions, leading to smoother and more productive study sessions.
An app to recommend will be Todoist*, which shows you the percentage of work completed, and your daily goals to hit. The best part of using this app is its focus mode which will help block you temporarily from all your social media notifications.
4. Create small quizzes
During the holidays, many of us travel. Quizzes are a convenient and effective way of memorising chunks of information on the go. I remember looking forward to my lecturer’s quizzes, and finding out the common mistakes made. As a visual learner, this helped me a lot.
To do this, you can always make use of Kahoot** to self-test, and review your understanding of the topic. Alternatively, you can create flash cards or even better, meet up with friends and quiz each other on a certain topic.
5. Review your work
Throughout the first half of this academic year, I have spent time making mind maps and other visual aids that will help me retain knowledge for a longer period.
If I’m going on a road trip, I scan these studying materials and upload the document onto my device. This allows me to browse my study materials wherever I go, regardless of Wifi connection. I feel that this is most useful especially when I am on a long journey.
If time permits, I would also redo the assignments where I failed, or didn’t obtain a satisfactory score. This helps to refresh my memory of what I have learned. Of course, the past year questions we have answered in class require our attention, so I would definitely at least re-read the questions and answers.
With all these tips, I hope that the holidays are well-spent and that you will be able to have a better study-life balance. Do also let me know if you have any productivity tips to share, and have a jolly holiday ahead!
*Other time-management and planning apps are available, the University of London does not endorse any specific platform.
**Other game-based learning apps are available, the University of London does not endorse any specific platform.
Esther is studying the BSc Accounting and Finance in Singapore.