It is safe to say that the holiday season is officially in high gear. Thanksgiving has come and gone, which means it is acceptable to put up Christmas decorations and listen to Christmas music. Of course, plenty of stores (and people) like to blow past Thanksgiving and go straight into Christmas after Halloween. For the record, I love Christmas; I love the music, the decorations, and shopping for family and friends, but Thanksgiving deserves its time! In fact, I think it is appropriate that a holiday centered on being thankful for what already have falls before the mayhem that comes with this year’s hottest gifts and that gift that you “need to have.” Unfortunately, most people don’t take to heart what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about; it’s just the big meal they have before they rush off to buy the giant TV.
Cynicism aside, I’m sure you did not click on the link to hear my disappointment in the human race. So what is new in the life of this grad student? I am about half way through the material in my 4 week course and still a week ahead of schedule. I did slack a bit on the schedule I created for myself this week. One commonality between undergrad and grad school, maintaining focus on school around Thanksgiving is a monumental task. You’re tired of the semester already, you’re home with family who are off from work and not worrying about homework, and you are so close to winter break. It is tempting to neglect the school work you told yourself you would get done while you had the extra time. I hosted Thanksgiving at my house this year (check out that pretty homemade cranberry sauce in the header) which only added to the distractions, even for the small party I was having. Cooking all day and then decorating the house with my family is a much more enjoyable way to spend the day than listening to lectures or writing papers. Then of course you have the post Thanksgiving food coma, which eliminates any motivation that may have remained in your body. All hope is not lost though, there are tricks to making sure you achieve most, if not all, of the work you set out for yourself while still enjoying your holiday break.
First things first, take a breath, give yourself one day in your break to do nothing school related. If you want that day to be turkey day, perfect, be in the moment and enjoy family time. If you want it to be Black Friday, go for it. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, balance is key in surviving grad school. You can force yourself through that lecture or reading, but if you’re burned out, you will not retain the material and will have to redo it. Save yourself the time and frustration and take the break. It will be better for your studies and mental health in the long run. School is important, but so is enjoying life.
Second tip, set aside one hour a day to chip away at the material you need to cover. If you need more time, or want to set aside more time, that’s fine, but make sure you make the commitment to dedicate at least one hour a day to your checklist. These small amounts of time will go quickly but will add up and leave you with far less to cram into your schedule once break is over. You may even be able to turn that study time into family time. Have a quiz coming up? Have a family member quiz you on the material. Need your paper edited? A second set of eyes are a great resource when you have been slaving away over your computer. There are plenty of ways to make sure you enjoy your break while still getting your work done.
Speaking of dedicating time to your studies, I believe it is time for me to do exactly that. I’m off to immerse my self in the wonderful world of inbound marketing. Enjoy your Sunday!