Staying Motivated as a Student Through the Holidays

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smart-goalsHolidays are a joyous time of year, but they are also full of distractions. From the parties to family visits to putting up decorations and buying gifts, students will find themselves busier than usual. Here are six tips to stay motivated during the most hectic time of the year.

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Goals give us something to work towards, something to look forward to, and something to keep us motivated. When defining and setting your goals, make sure they are S.M.A.R.T:



  • Specific Specific goals are clear, focused, concise and well-defined.
  • Measurable To measure your success, you need to establish timelines and firm completion dates.  Measuring your progress enables you to stay on track and reach your target goals.
  • Attainable – When you identify goals that are important to you, you begin to discover ways you can make them come true. You can accomplish most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a realistic time frame that allows you to carry out those steps.
  • RealisticA realistic goal is one that you are both willing and able to work toward.
  • TimelySet a time frame for your goal.  Your goal should have a clear starting point and an ending point.

Set a Study Schedule

Finding free time to study during the holidays can be challenging, so it’s best to look at your calendar of activities to determine specific timeframes when you can crack open the books. Then, refer to your S.M.A.R.T. goals to determine how much you need to study. With this information in hand, it’s easy to build out a study schedule. The key is sticking with it. If you are used to studying on the weekends when you’ll be the busiest over the holidays, you may need to get creative. Build in study time during the week, before work, in between activities and over your lunch break.

Study Effectively

Get more bang for your buck out of your study time by using one method that is widely accepted: SQ3R – Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review:

  • Survey: “Survey” means to skim the lesson rapidly in order to establish its purpose and take note of the main ideas.
  • Question: When you have completed your survey of the material, write down several questions that you think the lesson will answer. Then look for answers as you read the section.
  • Read: Read the material one section at a time, actively looking for answers to the questions you have posed. Taking brief notes while you read also improves comprehension.  If you find that highlighting is helpful, only highlight the most important facts and phrases, not whole paragraphs.
  • Recite: After you have read the section and answered all of your questions, take time to recite your questions and their answers aloud.
  • Review: Within one day of completing a reading assignment, review your notes and other study materials to increase your comprehension and cement the information in your long-term memory.

Don’t Procrastinate

It is very easy to put off for tomorrow what you don’t feel like doing today; but, this is a dangerous habit to get into. Eventually, the stress of not having projects completed will take over and you’ll begin to feel overwhelmed during one of the happiest times of the year. The best thing to do is to complete the first item on your study list and work your way through the rest. Worst case scenario, if after ten minutes, you are having a difficult time starting on the first assignment, pick an easy task from your list and complete it. Sometimes, we just need that feeling of success to spur us on to complete the number one task on our list.

Study with Friends

Meeting up with a group of friends to study is a stress-free way to spend time with great people and get your work done too. Not only can you help each other stay on track, you will have a great pool of resources to utilize if you get stuck on a complex problem or theory.

Make Time for Yourself

Your happiness is essential to your quality of life. Assignments and projects are important, but so is your mental health. Take some time each day or each week to do something for yourself like catching up on your favorite TV shows or having a special dinner with your family. Taking the time to refresh and decompress during the holidays will make it easier to focus and stay on task with your projects and assignments.

Reference Links:

• SMART Goals:
• SQ3R Study Method:
• Additional Study Tips:


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