Five Simple Ways to Stay Focused Despite Holiday Distraction
A funny thing happens around this time of year. The twinkle lights, Christmas trees, and wreaths go up, and BOOM! Our motivation goes down.
Like, way down.
Let’s be honest: in a year like 2020, the holiday distractions of decorations and Christmas movies have probably never been more welcome. And yet, there sit the Saxon Math and other school books, reminding us of what needs to be done. Many of us simply don’t have the luxury of taking a whole month off from this school thing.
So how do you keep going when you really, really, really don’t feel like it? How do you tackle fractions when you’d rather be sitting by the fire? A combination of a few small steps can keep you going strong until it’s actually time to take your holiday break.
Commit. Remember what’s important. Every day, BEFORE you start, BEFORE you hit bumps in your day, consider for a moment why you’re doing what you’re doing. Whatever your reasons, how you are spending these school days is important, for you and your student(s). Remember that, even if you’re hungry for holiday right now, we still have days, even weeks to get through before the real thing. A WHOLE MONTH of anything, even fun holiday distractions, can get old. So for now, keep your eye on the prize.
2. Decide what’s essential. What truly needs to get done to make the end of this semester a success? Is handwriting essential? Would one less science lesson a week make things a little less overwhelming? Is the unit study you planned in September still a good choice? Picking your battles is important, but even more so this year. Maybe four math lessons a week will leave you the energy to tackle other important subjects.
On the flip side, maybe you NEED extra math to eat up time you’d normally spend seeing friends or going to parties. Whatever the answer, the important thing is that you are identifying and doing what’s most important. Then you can, in good conscience, lay down the things that make you distracted or even resentful.
3. Limit distractions. Do you need to move school away from where the decorations are? Do you need to say “no” to certain activities that you liked in the past but which will interfere with what you need to work on this year? Take note of what’s going on around you when you hear that little voice that says “Let’s go bake cookies instead of division/sentence diagramming/whatever you want to get out of today.”
4. Reward everyone! Remember: rewards work. Everyone loves a little something special after completing a hard task. Maybe a small daily reward works for your student (or you). Maybe you’ll plan something big when the last day before break comes. Whatever it is, hard work is easier when you know there’s a payoff at the end! Consider the runner who sprints at the end of a long race, knowing the finish line is in sight. Similarly, we can really buckle down when we know something great awaits us, no matter how big the holiday distractions!
Practically speaking, it helps to be clear ahead of time (for yourself and your student) that something good is coming, if we can just muscle through the hard stuff. And regardless of how and when you choose to dole out rewards, always heap on the praise! Most everyone has a hard time staying focused this time of year.
5. Take it One Day at a Time. Did you ditch the Saxon math work to play games yesterday? Or somehow you forgot to work on that history paper? It’s okay. It really is! Just remember, one day of distractions doesn’t mean that it’s time to ditch the whole month. Be glad you made a memory–and then pick up where you left off. You really only need to be focused for today, and today alone. Stay focused one day at a time, and soon you’ll look back and realize you really did make progress amidst the distractions!
Do you have any tips for staying motivated through the holiday distractions of December? If so, let me hear ‘em! Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great one!
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