The holidays can be a wonderful time to reconnect with family and friends, as well as a time to focus on the things that matter the most to us. But the holidays can also be a time of stress. One of the things that can add to holiday stress is the type of intense study regime familiar to anyone preparing for their EPPP.
Sometimes I hear people ask questions like:
How can I possibly enjoy this holiday season with the licensure exam hanging over my head?
Should I just skip Christmas this year to focus on my EPPP studies instead?
How can I balance my EPPP preparation with the events of the holiday season, including my commitment to friends and family?
If you find yourself resonating with any of these, I have good news for you. Keeping to an EPPP course of study does not need to ruin the holiday season. In fact, if you follow the 10 techniques laid out in Parts 1 and 2, you’ll find that you can have a productive course of EPPP study and still enjoy a relaxing, fun-filled holiday season!
Tip 1: Study Little and Often.
Depending on where you’re at in your EPPP studies, you may feel that you are in a position to take an entire week or two off for the Christmas and New Year holidays. However, the best practice is to try to keep up at least some EPPP studying throughout the holidays, even if it’s only half an hour a day. This is based on the principle that studying little and often is better than not at all.
It isn’t surprising that studying little and often is more effective than not studying at all. However, what may surprise many people is that a little-and-often approach is also preferable to long periods of intensive study punctuated by periods of not studying at all.
Many people study really hard leading up to the holidays, and really hard coming out of them, but take a complete break during the holidays themselves. We recommend instead that you keep some consistency with your studies throughout the holiday period, even on a reduced schedule. This doesn’t mean that you have to study every single day, as many people will want to take time off for key events like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, family time, and so forth. But we strongly recommend you don’t take a complete break for more than a few days at a time. Remember, your studying might be as short as 15 minutes a day—the main thing is to keep the forward momentum going.
Tip 2: Keep Your Goal in Sight.
Keeping even a small study routine going during the holidays isn’t easy. When all your friends are outside sledding or your relatives are around the Christmas tree drinking hot apple cider, it can be hard to be off by yourself studying EPPP key terms. You might be tempted to think: Is it really worth all this?
At times like this, it is helpful to visualize your endgame, to imagine all the things you plan on doing after you have passed the licensure exam. Remind yourself that the sacrifices you’re making now are a small price to pay for your long-term success.
Tip 3: Don’t be a Perfectionist!
Balancing a little-and-often EPPP study routine with the holidays can be especially difficult for those of us who suffer from perfectionism. Because perfectionists tend to be all-or-nothing people, they would rather not study at all than study in an environment or at a time that is less than optimal. And the holidays are not the most suitable time for studying, especially if you are surrounded by family, friends, and distractions.
If you are a perfectionist, you may go into the holiday season determined to study little and often every day, but then after missing a day, you feel so guilty that you despair of being able to balance study with the holidays. Out of guilt and frustration, you conclude that it’s no use trying to study during the holidays, and you don’t pick up your EPPP study materials until the new year rolls around. But this only creates more long-term stress because it sets you significantly behind in your studies.
The solution is that instead of thinking of yourself as a failure because you missed one of your study periods, be encouraged that you are managing to study at all during the holidays. Then do what you can to keep at least some forward momentum with your EPPP prep. If you miss a day, don’t worry – just keep pressing on as best you can.
Tip 4: Be Deliberate with Your Schedule.
Because the holidays are filled with so many distractions, it is virtually impossible to achieve productive studying without being deliberate about your study schedule. If you don’t have a schedule and instead just try to study whenever you can, then you could be setting yourself up for failure. For example, without a schedule, when you do participate in family holiday activities, you are unable to fully enjoy yourself because of feeling guilty that you are not studying. On the other hand, when you are studying, you are unable to fully concentrate on your EPPP prep work because of feeling guilty that you are being unsociable. To avoid both ends of this negative spectrum, give yourself a deliberate study schedule. This will help preserve the integrity of your study times as well as allow you to experience the full benefits of the holiday season. Having a deliberate schedule will enable you to be fully engaged and intentional about whatever you are doing, whether it’s your EPPP study or decorating the Christmas tree.
Being deliberate with your schedule will also enable you to effectively work around the times when you know you won’t be able to study. For example, if you know that you will not be available to study on certain days, then you can work to really prioritize your studying in the days or week prior.
Being deliberate about structured study doesn’t mean you need to be rigid. For example, if you have already done your study period for one day and suddenly find yourself with some extra uninterrupted time, go ahead and use that as another opportunity for study. On the other side of the coin, if keeping rigidly to your study schedule will mean missing an activity you really wanted to do, feel free to move your study to a different time that day, or even to skip it altogether. The point is to find a natural method that works well for you and your family and can include the type of flexibility needed during the holiday season.
Our program at TSM is actually designed to accommodate the type of flexibility needed for the holidays. Using our online tools, you can custom design a program to fit your own holiday schedule, specifying how many hours each week you are able to dedicate to study. It could be anywhere from 45 minutes a day to 2 hours. We’re here to help you find the best fit for your life and study needs.
Tip 5: Set Boundaries.
Once you have determined your study schedule, set boundaries for yourself and others.
It’s important that your loved ones know not to disturb you during your study sessions, but it’s also important that you commit not to let your EPPP studies intrude into the time you have set aside for being with your family and loved ones.
Explain to them the situation you’re in, and ask them to help keep you accountable for continuing your regime of study during the holidays. Involving your friends and family in the process will help them as well as yourself.
Come back next week for 5 more tips to keep your study schedule (and sanity!) in check during the holidays!