Let’s set the scene: you’ve had an excellent semester by following our 10 Tips for a Successful First Year, Learn to Cope with Pressure, or Mentally Preparing for School articles. Now, how do you stay focused and productive during your well-deserved time off?
The most important thing is to budget some free time. You’ve earned it, and taking a break from the books is important in re-energizing your mind and preventing burnout. Give yourself at least three days of blissful non-academic work. Do whatever it is that calms and relaxes you – it might be exercising, reading for pleasure, playing video games, hanging out with friends, or watching TV. However, try not to let three days of rest slip into three weeks of unproductive procrastination. A short break between semesters is an opportunity to catch up on school work, get yourself ahead for next semester, or to get cracking on an end of year research paper.
So what is the best way to go about this?
Take it easy: there’s no need to give yourself a full workload.
Prioritize what is most time- or labour-intensive and set yourself manageable short term goals.
Consider setting aside a couple of hours each day – or however many hours are necessary – to complete these goals. You are not going to be able to write a 20 page research paper by working an hour a day, but you are going to put a significant dent in the research, which will put you in a great position when deadlines are nearing your horizon.
Short breaks are a great time to start working on things – as you well know, you might not have the luxury of free time when you’re deep into the semester. As far off as those deadlines seem, they’ll creep up on you, readings will stack up, exams will be scheduled and group assignments will become more time consuming.
If you’re determined to take a full, no-work break, make sure you at least stay focused and keep your mind sharp. Even skimming over previously assigned readings helps keep you in rhythm and doesn’t allow you to slack off. School is about routine, and although you will be on a well-earned holiday, make sure to keep yourself active and engaged to make the return to school a little easier on yourself.