“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, hence breaks are an essential part of our academic curriculum. Thankfully enough, we get vacations for a considerable amount of time every year, irrespective of the course we take, or the degree of education being pursued.
But, all around the globe, students struggle with productivity during such breaks. Be it summer vacations, spring break, or this quarantine homestay productivity often goes for a toss when we need it. So, the billion-dollar question is, is there a codebook we can follow to maintain supreme productivity and stay focused during these times?
The answer lies, in “all good things come to those who hustle”. There may not be a full-proof method to achieve superior focus in such times, but there definitely are some tried and tested ways that one can try out. Let’s have a look —
1.Have a clear end goal before you begin
It is of umpteen importance to know what and how much you aspire to achieve, given the time frame of your vacation or homestay. It is important to stay objective and reasonable while gaining insights on this. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Reasonable, and Time-bound. You may have figured the mnemonic, SMART!
2. Plan and make a schedule
We all have different peak hours when we’re on full throttle. Hence, identify your personal sweet spots first. Some people learn better when they study in the morning hours while others are night owls who study when the world snoozes. Schedule your study hours accordingly. Make sure you commit to that schedule.
Don’t forget to include both studies as well as recreational activities in your calendar to strike a healthy balance.
3. Change your view
Often during the holidays, there is a festive atmosphere at home. Kids running around, relatives and friends chattering, coming and going and even food that smells good can keep you away from studying. A load of distractions await your slacklines. Understandably, it becomes too challenging to focus on your online course. It is recommended to take a few hours off of the day to go out and find a good spot to study like a nearby cafe or maybe your balcony. If you’re focused and have continuous study time free of distraction, you can complete your course faster and more effectively.
4. Limit distractions
It takes discipline to remove distractions and focus solely on studying. Too many distractions, break the chain of thought, disrupt your concentration, and make the whole exercise futile. Therefore, it is important to remind yourself that focusing means you’ll get more studying done. Limit distractions by turning off notifications on your mobile and logging out of social media might help, for starters. Minimize human interaction while studying as well.
5. Maintain a healthy sleep cycle
What is worse than not completing your daily study goals? Staying up all night and procrastinating about it. A day didn’t turn out as planned? Some disruptions and unavoidable situations slowed you down? Do not stress over it! Have a full night’s sleep and start fresh the next day, you will get more work done if you sleep well.
6. Self-motivation is the key
Rewards are a great way to start. It works for children, your pets and it definitely works for adults too. Reward yourself when you have finished a unit or a difficult section in your course work. Treat yourself to a fancy meal, buy yourself something special or enjoy one day of no studying like a cheat day, as a reward.
7. Get inspiration
Looking for inspiration every once in a while is important. You can even meditate as an adjunct to it. Read a lot of non-academic books of any genre of your liking when you take a break from studying. Listen to Ted Talks of people who inspire you or whose stories motivate you. And when you run out of inspiration, you can always think of Sir William Shakespeare, who wrote King Lear when he was quarantined during the Bubonic plague or Sir Isaac Newton who discovered gravity in his leisure time.
8. Avoid burnouts
If you work constantly throughout the day, without breaks. There is a good possibility that you will hit a brick wall or “burnout”. When that comes, you might go spiraling back to zero productivity before you even realize it. Hence, it is important to take reasonable breaks in between. Take some time out for some recreation or practice some of your favourite stress relievers.
Remember, the earth will still revolve around the sun even if you don’t study in full throttle on a bad day. Having said that, it is important not to lose sight of things that really matter.
Most importantly, have patience if the progress is slow, as there are a lot of crests and troughs in a study vacation. Maintaining the same level of productivity is difficult. But, you can always get more done on your most productive days to compensate for the lesser ones. In all. It is important to strike a sweet balance between work (studies) and play (recreation) to achieve your goals while on a vacation or a homestay.