11 Tips To Staying Productive During The Holidays
With the holidays now upon us and winter break only days from beginning, you’re probably thinking about all the ways you’re going to take it easy and not think about anything but relaxation. While some relaxation is a good thing, though, many students will overdo it and put themselves in a bind that is hard to get out of once the spring semester arrives. Studies have shown time and again that it’s best to keep your mind active so that there isn’t such a learning curve when it comes time to be productive once again. That’s why we’ve put together these 11 ways that you can stay productive throughout the holiday season. Let’s get started!
Sophia Breene in a 2013 blog for the Huffington Post pointed out the 13 mental health benefits of exercise. Thirteen! Among them, reducing stress, boosting the chemicals in your brain that cause happiness, improving self-confidence, and preventing cognitive decline. Of this last benefit, Breene said, “As aging and degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s kill off brain cells, the noggin actually shrinks, losing many important brain functions in the process. While exercise and a healthy diet can’t “cure” Alzheimer’s, they can help shore up the brain against cognitive decline that begins after age 45 Working out, especially between age 25 and 45, boosts the chemicals in the brain that support and prevent degeneration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain for memory and learning.” While these effects are no doubt beneficial in the aging process, they can also stave off temporary cognitive decline, such as the kind that occurs when you give your brain permission to sleep in every day, watch television, and eat junk food with no productive regimen to keep you on track. Because of the benefits of exercise, we recommend that you give it 30 to 45 minutes of intense exercise each day.
2. Read a book for English class, 2nd Semester
At the start of each school year, teachers will generally hand out a syllabus of expectations and assignments for the weeks ahead. If your teacher does this a year in advance the way that so many do, then you may want to sneak a peek at it before heading home for the holidays. If you see that your English teacher is planning Hamlet for the second semester, then take your copy home or purchase one from a bookstore and give it a read during the course of your winter break. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with the text before delving deeply into it at the start of the semester. You probably won’t grasp every little detail when you read it on your own, but the pump will be more than primed and ready to grasp what your teacher would have you to grasp as you review it as a class.
3. Work ahead (or catch up) on math
In the same spirit of the winter break reading assignment, you should return to or look ahead on your math over the break. Schedule some time — like maybe an hour per day — to revisit areas that may have given you trouble. If you aced everything, then don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and take on more without the safety net of an instructor to guide you. With the Internet at your fingertips, you can learn a lot on your own — at least enough to set the stage for the second semester.
4. Job-shadow someone who does the type of job that you would like to do
There is no better on-the-job training than to sidle up to a professional and see how they do their job on any given day. Even better if you can schedule some observation over a series of days or a week’s time. If you know of any professional people — as in colleagues, friends, or good acquaintances of your Mom and Dad — then see if your parents can’t set something up. George Root of Demand Media explains that the job shadow is perfect because it gives you a chance to be molded by the real-world employee experience; it gives you a chance to see where your education lines up with actual careers; and it gives you insight into how you can be more productive.
5. Review what you learned in the first semester and write it down in a journal
If you don’t plan on getting out and being social over the winter break, then stop what you’re doing for a bloc of time and write down all the thins that you learned in the first semester off the top of your head. Make note of concepts that were easy for you and don’t shy away from the ones that gave you trouble. By pushing your brain to remember, you’ll be in a great position to solidify existing knowledge and set yourself up for success with the things that are still giving you trouble.
6. Get your diet on the right path
Just like exercise can boost your mental health, eating healthy can do the same. As PsychCentral’s senior news editor Rick Nauert points out, “In an Australian study, 396 children between the ages 6 and 12 who were given a drink with omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients (iron, zinc, folic acid and vitamins A, B6, B12 and C) showed higher scores on tests measuring verbal intelligence and learning and memory after six months and one year than a control group of students who did not receive the nutritional drink. This study was also conducted with 394 children in Indonesia.”
7. Be out of bed by at least 9am
If you’re not out of bed by 9am during the winter break, you’re going to have an extremely tough time staying productive and easing back in to the new semester. Nine is a good compromise time because it allows you to go beyond the normal wakeup time without overdoing it to the point that you’ll find it impossible to make the switch back to normal school hours. Of course, the benefits of sleep are well-documented, but too much of anything can be a drawback, so pay special attention to how much sack time you are getting.
8. Spend an hour researching something online (or at the library) for fun
Have you ever started to look at something online when a news story or a headline caught your attention? Perhaps it was about someone famous — a new piece of news or a shocking revelation? I’m finding things online all the time that I didn’t previously know about, and once I get started doing the research, I can’t stop. One recent example: I was on Reddit and found out that Joe Pesci used to be a singer and a musician, and he even played guitar in the same band as rock legend Jimi Hendrix. In fact, Hendrix filled in his position after he left the band! Who knew? The maniac from Goodfellas and Casino, the little squat villain from Home Alone 1 and 2 — all this time, he was a rock and roller? The Internet is a wonderful tool that makes us all a lot smarter than generations past. So why not use it for that when we’re wasting time time during the holidays?
9. Start a group at your local coffee shop
If you’re more of a social butterfly and don’t want to lose touch with your school friends — or maybe you want to make new friends — then you should consider starting a book group or some other type of special interest group at your local coffee shop. It could mean just getting together to have coffee and talk. Whatever gets you out of your room, out of the house, and gives you purpose!
10. Write a book
Okay, so you probably won’t be writing an entire book during the holidays, but you can put a good dent in one and it can be just the creative exercise to get you out of bed and active throughout the day. Plus, you may even be so excited by your progress that you end up finishing it, publishing, and making a million dollars.
11. Study for an upcoming exam
No one’s test date comes out of the blue when it comes to standardized tests. The dates are planned out well in advance giving students adequate time to prepare. If you know that you have a test on the horizon, then crack open the books or check out one of the freebies that we provide as a service to our visitors. Don’t let a golden opportunity pass you by to prove that you’re ready for the next step in your education and, possibly, career.
While it may not interest you at first, it’s much better staying productive throughout the winter break and being able to resume your routine once back in class than to mentally abandon everything for the holiday and making things twice as hard once you’re back. That’s it for us. What do you do to stay busy during winter break? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via DevelopAWeb]