Have you ever gone on a break with plans to get things done, only to return weeks later exactly where you left off?
It’s a familiar story – the holiday break is here and you’re grudgingly packing books to get a head-start on the work ahead of you in January.
If you plan ahead and manage your time properly, your free time won’t disappear into thin air. Here’s how to fit everything into your schedule and manage common planning problems.
Plan in advance
Get out a calendar (or calendar app) and mark down all of your known commitments in advance. For example, if you know you’ll be making a holiday dinner, make sure you book off the whole day for cooking. Likewise, add in parties, trips and any other commitments with a set date.
Make sure to keep your calendar up-to-date. Planning will help you keep track of your free time and see how much of it you really have to manage.
Once you’ve established how much time you have to work with, make a list of things you want to get accomplished over your break.
Anything not time-sensitive can go on this list: reading 100 pages for a work-heavy course next term, visiting a favourite local attraction, working on your resume and applying for summer jobs are all good examples.
Creating a list will help you get focused. Do you want to take care of one or two big projects, or fulfill a number of smaller ones? Checking each item off your list will also help you visualize how much you’re getting accomplished over your break.
Involve your family
Even though your family is already part of your holiday schedule, try and involve them in your time management plans. Share the work priorities you’ve set for yourself and indicate how they align with your plans to relax and spend time together.
Communicating about your schedule ensures that your loved ones won’t have hurt feelings if you can’t join spontaneous plans – and it may help keep you accountable, too!
It’s ok to adjust your schedule when something important or tempting comes up, but remember that getting some work done over the break may well be worth missing out on a little fun now and then.
Manage your friends
After spending time with your family, your friends pose the biggest challenge to staying productive over the break. While you don’t want your relationships to suffer for the sake of textbooks and assignments, you can plan to make your social hours as effective as possible.
Make sure to prioritize friends who are in town temporarily for the holidays. If possible, see friends in large group settings, which will allow you to spend time with several friends at once. If any of the activities on your to-do list could include others, make sure to suggest them – you could accomplish two things at once.
Plan your gift-buying
Shopping is not only time-consuming, it can also leave you with no energy to get work done – even if you have time on your hands.
Avoid the lineups at the mall by shopping for gifts online – and start early. Consider buying multiple gifts at one retailer. Some online stores offer free or discounted shipping charges for purchases over a certain amount.
Make sure that gifts purchased online are guaranteed to arrive in time for the holidays. Forgo wrapping paper in favour of gift bags, it’ll save you time and frustration and they’re reusable.
Make ‘me-time,’ but don’t go overboard
With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, sometimes you just want some time to watch TV or lie on the couch.
There’s nothing wrong with relaxing, but don’t give in to the temptation to stay home all break long. Here are some signs that you’ve been taking too much ‘me’ time:
- You leave your bath feeling like a giant prune
- Your TV time has turned into a 5-hour-long sitcom marathon
- You realize you’ve worn pajamas for an entire week solid
If you have regular routines you follow for school or work, try and stick with them even though you’re on break. You’ll feel more willing to get work done if you’re showered and dressed by 11 A.M. than if you find yourself in bed in the afternoon.
Of course, tips can’t make your break productive unless you’re serious about getting things done. Gear up with the right attitude and you’ll find yourself feeling accomplished and relaxed when you return to the classroom or the workplace, even while others are dashing through the snow.