It goes without saying that the holidays are fast approaching. Many different emotions run high during this time: happiness about breaks from school or work, depression about missing loved ones, and stress about hosting loads of people. Whatever holiday emotions you are experiencing right now, you are probably also feeling anxious about continuing your graduate and/or dissertation work through the holidays. This time of year is a good time to break away from your normal schedule and relax with friends and family, but it can also bring some understandable anxiety about meeting your goals. Here are a few tips that I hope will help you balance your relaxation time and your work time during this holiday season.
Make a schedule.
Scheduling your holiday activities may sound unnecessary, but it will work well for you, whether your schedule will be packed with family visits and events or if you plan to be free for most of your holiday break(s). After making a schedule, you can see how you plan to spend your time. If you fall under the category of being busy with celebrations during your holidays, make sure you have plenty of time to do graduate and/or dissertation work, too.
On the other hand, you also want to map out when you will attend holiday events or simply relax with friends and family because you will need rest for your brain. On the PhDStudent website, you can find a few articles about needing to rest from your work: Relaxation Techniques and The Importance of Self-Care: Advice to Graduate Students. If you break up your work and devote certain amounts of hours per day or week during your holiday break(s), then you will feel much more satisfied going back to school afterwards.
Relax when you want.
Sometimes, graduate students feel guilty about taking time for themselves to rest or take breaks. However, relaxation is actually needed to be more productive. Phyllis Korkki writes about this in an article entitled To Stay on Schedule, Take a Break. Korkki supports breaks throughout the work day and includes statements by professors that help explain the same thing. Read the article to learn more about how breaks can only help your productivity, as long as you balance your time between relaxing and working.
Specifically for the holidays, give yourself at least one time a day to engage in restful activities that are free of work activities or even social obligations. Have lunch with a friend, watch movies with family, attend a holiday party for your workplace, or read a leisure magazine. Give yourself these times to look forward to in your schedule so that you don’t feel like you are only working during your whole holiday break.
Work when you should.
For some, breaks can bring procrastination, so be aware of how long and how often your small breaks tend to be. Balancing between your work times and your break times will come easily once you schedule your holidays. Not only will you be able to see times for good productivity in your schedule, but also, human intuition should tell you when you’ve had enough time to rest. I know it can be hard, but when you know that you need to work on something productive, just do it instead of procrastinating more.
When you find idle times in your schedule that you are not using for spending time with friends and family or attending other holiday activities, devote this time to working. Even if all you can do is shell out a few paragraphs for a chapter then that would be more paragraphs than what you had before. These times can be on a car or plane ride, at your own home while waiting on visitors, or during the few hours before attending a holiday event.
A few previous blog posts that I’ve written can also help you with managing your time during this holiday season. Why Sleep is More Important Than You Think and 3 Helpful Tips for Time Management will help bring even more clarity to the ways you invest your time when balancing work and play. If you have questions, comments, or concerns, always feel free to write in the comment section below. I hope that you all have restful, productive, and safe holidays!