Studying with The Open University can be a real juggling act, particularly at Christmas time when you want to relax and enjoy time with your family or friends but still have that looming assignment on your mind.
Karen Foley is an OU Lecturer and presenter on the OU’s Student Hub Live. Damon Miller is an associate lecturer at the OU and a tutor on Level 2 International development: making sense of a changing world.
They both know that OU students are spinning plates all year round, often combining study, work and life. They have put together this advice on dealing with study over Christmas, while still taking that much-needed time off to re-charge:
1) Check the task in hand
Save yourself worry time over Christmas by checking when the next deadline looms. Often we know (even fear) there is a deadline looming but don’t look at the task. Until you know how complex (or simple) it is, you won’t know how much time to set aside. Often it is less than you think.
2) Relax and enjoy the season
Take time off, and give yourself a present of valuable time off study and thinking about studying. You need to recharge and plan things that matter to you. Make a pact to only feel guilty for not studying if you are not studying when you have told yourself you should be!
3) Straighten up your study space
Sort out your study space and organise your things if you find yourself with spare time over the holidays. It can be very therapeutic and give you clarity. You can literally clear away the clutter. Same goes for your module housekeeping. If you’re mid-way through a module take a moment to ensure you’ve noted your assignment dates and booked in any tutorials if you have them.
4) Prioritise and be realistic
Identify what you must do, rather than all the things you could do. Try to break big tasks down. Instead of saying “write essay” you could say: “do plan, find resources or note chapters to read” for your essay. Above all be realistic and remember point 2) above.
5) Resolve to restart your studies
It’s so important to relax and re-charge by taking a complete break, but the return to study can come sooner than you think. Set yourself up by having a clear re-start date in mind, and make sure you stick to it. The New Year is traditionally a period of renewal, so if you’re one for making Resolutions, add this one to the list.
6) Get in touch with your “study head”
The break from deadlines can be a great opportunity to either catch-up if you’ve got behind or even to get ahead – returning to work or going back to the school run is hard enough after the holidays, so make sure you’re in good stead with your “study head”. You’ll be amazed how quickly June will come around – after Christmas it’s a downhill rush towards the final assessment, so it’s good to be prepared.
7) Broaden your study horizons
If you find yourself feeling tired of study, try a new way in. Reignite your passion for your subject by watching something (DVDs or TV) that’s related to the topic. The OU also has a lot of free content on OpenLearn and you could also use online searches and YouTube to look up specific questions or areas.