Everybody knows that at the start of any school holiday, there are grand ambitions of using every day to its fullest. We make claims of “every day, I’ll revise and do past papers”, coming back to school and being top of the class, and eventually that well-placed resolve crumbles as the weeks go on, our bed is just too comfortable and that new season just came out, right? One day of break couldn’t hurt…

This experience is incredibly widespread, and tends to leave us feeling guilty once we get back to school. So, how can we avoid this?

The first tip is one you’ve probably heard in your PE class when you do (the dreaded) cross-country: pace yourself. Yes, it’s good to push yourself, but we need to be realistic, especially when we set personal goals for ourselves and are responsible for them. For example, if a teacher will monitor your revision and tells you to do three hours, you will do three hours, but that changes when you have the choice to just “do it later”. So, instead of setting big tasks every day, try to do a little at a time. Sprinting at the beginning of a long race is always a bad idea unless you’re superhuman, and the same logic applies to almost anything else.

The next step is to set up incentives for yourself. Nobody likes to work for free, so it’s important to keep yourself motivated, especially in subjects you struggle with. You could do this by rewarding yourself after every topic you learn, or after every half an hour of work you do, for example. Tailor this to you! The prize could be chocolate, an episode of a show, or even just a lie down.

One of the best ways to stay motivated is to start small and work your way up. Doing a practice paper only to check your answers and find that you got 47% rather than the expected 90%+ is pretty disheartening, we don’t get the feeling of “wow I’m so smart!” that so many of us crave. Lots of teachers will say that this active recall is the best revision method, but it’s hard to actively recall if the information to recall isn’t at the best level. So, it might help to start with passive revision and then move on to active revision, building towards a goal like this will help you set smaller, more realistic goals too.

Holidays are definitely a chance to improve productivity, so try your best to keep going. It might seem hard at first, but continue and it will get easier. And don’t forget, it’s ok to struggle, we all do!