It’s cold outside. There’s a frosty feeling in the air and you’ve just found your ugg boots and hot water bottle. Winter can be a great time to get ahead with your studies. Think about it – you’re probably going out less and you’re not tempted by beautiful, beachy days on the weekend. If you’re thinking about undertaking a course this year, winter could be the perfect time to get cracking. Here are some of the skills, techniques and tips on how to study during the winter to help you start!
1. Rug up and get yourself outside!
Taking frequent breaks while studying is essential for your ability to receive and retain new information. If it’s pouring outside, you’re off the hook, but otherwise, grab your puffer jacket and beanie and get to the park or the corner shops. Even a 15 minute revival break can make the difference to your productivity in the afternoon.
2. Unplug from social media
Sorry – but you know you have to. You don’t have to unplug forever, but switching off from social media is essential to getting work done. If you’re a real SM addict, allow yourself a five minute break every hour as a reward to lol at all those grumpy kittens and motivational memes. Then get back to work!
3. Make a to-do list
These help to keep you on track with your study and make sure you don’t get bored. First, block out your time: do you have 30 minutes or three hours to study? After this, examine what needs to be done. Assign priority tasks to the start of your study session, as this is where your brain works best. Switch tasks or subjects every 45 minutes to an hour as this also helps to keep you motivated. Here are some to-do list templates.
4. Get a blanket and make yourself comfortable
You will not last the distance if you are cold. If you usually study in your bedroom and it resembles an ice chest more than a cosy chalet, consider taking your study somewhere warmer. Small fan or bar heaters can dehydrate you and make you feel tired, so if possible, find a study spot that is naturally warm or has central heating. Investigate your local library, community centre or local cafe – you may find a warm study spot there.
5. Lovely cup of tea
Or coffee, or milo, or chai latte. Whatever your poison is, make sure you treat yourself to a cup of your favourite brew during your study session. A small amount of caffeine can make your brain function more effectively. According to Wikipedia, there are lots of proven effects of caffeine on your short and long term memory, so if used in appropriate amounts it could help you to remember those study facts. Just don’t go overboard!
6. Find the sunniest spot and park yourself in it!
One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to make sure that you are studying in a place with lots of natural light. Depending on where you live, the sunniest part of the day will fall at different times. Open up your curtains or blinds and move into the most light-filled room to study. The vitamin D will make you feel good all day and help to keep you motivated.
7. Know your peak time
We are all different. Some of us function best in the morning, doing our most vital work between 10 am and midday. Others prefer to study at night, burning the midnight oil until the wee hours. Others might find that they get a flash of inspiration in the afternoon after their coffee and cake. Whatever the optimal time for you to study is, make the most of this window and do your priority tasks then.
8. Phone a friend
But only if they’re studying too! Studying in small groups can be an effective way to learn, provided that the group is disciplined and can keep focus. For this reason it is imperative to schedule talk breaks and discussion periods, otherwise these will occur at unscheduled times and push people off track. If you study with Open Colleges, you can meet up with a local student doing a similar course to yours via the ‘study buddy’ system through OpenSpace.
9. Make a big pot of soup
The day before you study, that is! Keeping your brain active is made easier when we eat healthily and look after our nutritional needs. If you fuel your study session on chocolate and chips, you’re just going to crash when the sugar and salt rushes end. Make a huge pot of lovely winter soup including all the freshest veggies you can find and reap the rewards all week. Try this wholesome winter soup recipe.
10. Crank the tunes
There have been studies that show that music can be a great way to motivate you when you are studying but you have to choose music that has no lyrics. Research has found that some students did better at spatial and linguistic processing if Mozart was playing in the background where they studied. However, other evidence may suggest that some people benefit from tunes with a fast beat and rhyming lyrics. Whatever your style, here’s a classic winter playlist you can download with lots of classical stuff and some modern music too.
The end of the year is nigh!
There’s still time to start a course or make significant progress in the course you are already studying. Winter can be the perfect time to get motivated to make sure all your plans are set so you reach the end of the year getting where you planned to go. It’s definitely not too late to set some goals that you need to have completed by Christmas. Where do you want to be by then?
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