Do you feel the crunch yet?
No, not that ab crunch you did at the gym – we’re talking the holiday crunch. The “I have to study, shop, socialize, and by the way get some sleep, too,” holiday squeeze. As a nursing student, you’re used to juggling a lot at once. But if you’re wondering how to make sure your study time doesn’t suffer during the holiday rush, use the next few weeks to study smarter, not harder.
How? Studying smarter, not harder means using every single second of your time to get the most results, and that doesn’t mean logging more hours.
1. Pace Yourself
When you have too much to do and a limited amount of time, make a plan. You should think about a couple of logistics like prioritizing your tasks and deciding how much time you need to complete them (and then add an hour or two!). But you also need to figure out when you should study to be at your best (not past midnight if you’re an early bird) and where you can go to have the quiet you need. Planning it all means you’re less likely to get tripped up by something unexpected.
2. Make the Time
The holiday season might seem magical, but the one thing you can use – extra hours in a day – just won’t happen. Take the hours you do have and make the most of them. Finding time to study when finals are bearing down and holiday commitments are building isn’t easy, but it can be done. Use every extra minute in your day – no matter what your day looks like. Sitting at the laundomat? Rough out a paper, take notes on a lab while it’s fresh, catch up on the ever-present reading you need to do for the week. Same goes for running errands – stash flash cards in your bag and go through them if you’re waiting in a long line.
3. Write It, Don’t Just Read It
Study experts say the very act of writing down information (like taking notes or making flashcards) is more effective than just reading. While you’re reading, take notes on the important points in a notebook. Write flashcards for important terms or practices. If you’re struggling with specific terms or ideas, write them down 30 times just like a grade school spelling test. Writing helps you remember more information, and then you have some study notes that can be easily carried and pulled out when you have a couple of free minutes.
4. Practice Your Speech
Hate proofreading your own papers? If you can swap papers with a friend for a once over, do it. It’s a great way to catch errors and make your writing even stronger. But in a pinch, reading your paper out loud is a tool journalists use all the time. Find a quiet place (the car is a great spot) and read out loud at a slow and steady pace. You’ll be amazed at the spelling and grammatical errors you missed by reading alone.
5. Take Breaks
Spending too much time cramming for an exam can actually make things worse. You just can’t do a 10-hour marathon without taking a couple of breaks, but you can’t get distracted either. Plan when you will stop your work so you can get up, stretch, walk around a little, and chat with a friend. When your planned time is up, stop and get back to studying. You’ll be refreshed without losing your focus.
Hopefully your holidays will give you plenty of time for both work and fun. On the days when things seem really hectic, take a deep breath, use every minute wisely, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish! Good luck!