Thursday, 30 January 2014

How to keep your studies on track through the cold and dreary weather



At the coldest times of the year we often find ourselves more in need of ways to stay motivated and focused, and this can be as true for education as it is for other areas of life.

Here in the UK there’s been lots of wind and rain lately. The nights are still long, the celebratory new year mood is probably starting to wear off, and Winter isn’t done with us quite yet. We thought it would be a good time to put together some helpful tips on how to keep yourself motivated if you’re studying, particularly during the cold, dark winter months:

Stay warm and comfortable
It’s easy to get distracted from your studies if you’re feeling too cold, so make sure your learning environment is the right temperature to keep your concentration levels up. Make yourself something hot and comforting to eat and drink. Ultimately, if staying warm means you have to study wrapped in blankets or while hugging a hot water bottle, then there’s nothing wrong with doing just that!

Remember to relax
Try to make sure you are well-rested and know when you need to take a break. Both are important for maintaining concentration and making sure you absorb what you learn. Catching up on a little sleep may be more effective than forcing yourself to study while too tired, so allow yourself time to recuperate.

Don’t be afraid to venture outside
Make use of any breaks in the weather and take the opportunity to go outdoors. A brisk walk during a clear, crisp winter morning does wonders for waking you up. Wrap up warm and spend a bit of time outside, and by the time you get back home you’ll have shrugged off any lingering sluggishness and can get on with learning.

Make the most of that New Year feeling
The parties to welcome in the new year may seem like a distant memory by now, but it is nonetheless still January. Try to dig up and draw on the feeling of being excited, ready and raring to go at the turn of the year. Many of you will have hit the ground running at the start of 2014, perhaps using your new year’s resolutions as motivation. Keep that momentum up for as long as you can and use it to give yourself encouragement.

Keep in contact with others
If you have friends who are also studying, you could arrange for them to drop by so you can study together and keep each other company. As an NEC student you can also use the online workspace to compare notes with fellow students–and of course, don’t forget to keep in touch with your tutor! Just because the long winter months can deter a lot of people from leaving their homes, doesn’t mean you have to study alone.

Expand your learning and make things interesting
Keep your activities varied to help with engagement, and look for ways of putting your studies into a wider context. For example, if you’re taking a creative writing course, have a look at what novels have been published recently, and find out how they have been received by readers. If you are studying geography, you could watch a natural history documentary. Keep an eye out for news and current events related to your field of study, and think about how they reflect what you’ve learned from your course.

Treat yourself for meeting your aims
Set yourself goals, and reward yourself when you achieve them. During the cold, dark winter months, it can be tempting to procrastinate instead of studying. By setting yourself targets and giving yourself rewards, you can keep the temptation at bay. If you’re aiming to get through a certain amount of material by the end of the day, break that material down into manageable sections to make it less daunting. Give yourself a little reward as you complete each section, and a big reward at the end when you’ve completed it all!

Remind yourself why you’re studying
While everyone’s reasons for starting a course are different, the fact remains that you all have reasons for studying in the first place. Don’t let yourself forget those reasons. Remind yourself of why you want to learn something new, and look forward to what you will have achieved once you’re done. Remember also that education of any kind has a positive and enriching effect on your life, no matter what your plans for the future are–and that in itself is motivating too.

That’s our list, we hope it helps! To all our learners, and to learners everywhere, we wish you all the very best for your studies.

Do you have any other winter study tips you would like to share? Send them in to us at news@nec.ac.uk, and you might see yours featured in our newsletter!

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