Winter Break Preparations: 10 Moves To Make Now
It gives one a chance to recharge batteries and enjoy themselves before embarking on the challenges of the rest of the school year.
But in order to make the most of your break, you really need to do some legwork and take care of business ahead of time. To help you do just that, we’ve put together a list of 10 moves you should be making right now to prepare. Let’s get started!
The First Winter Break Prep Suggestion: Don’t lose focus.
Focus is hard to maintain right before winter break, but it is also the most important time to stay focused. That is because of things like end-of-semester projects being due and final exams.
If you shut out this time and do not give it your best effort, it can be the difference in one (and maybe even two) letter grades.
So what are some ways that you can maintain your focus just ahead of winter break?
- Remind yourself of the consequences.
- Lay out little rewards to keep yourself motivated.
- Help others, because in helping someone else understand something, you develop a better understanding of it yourself and more of a sense of your weak spots.
- Work in quiet spaces.
- Leave time for fun, but only as a reward for doing what you are supposed to be doing.
- Ask your family and friends to support you by giving the space and time to take care of the things that need tending to.
The Second: Develop a plan for how you will spend your time.
It is important to develop a plan for how you will spend your winter break because without one, you will likely end up sitting around doing nothing constructive, and it will all be over before you know it with you wondering where the time went and why you have nothing to show for it.
We recently did a Christmas break post for college students that should give you several ideas of what you can do with the free time, but here are some quick suggestions to get you started.
- Ask yourself what interests you. Then, ask what you can do to move the needle in your involvement/accomplishments with that area.
- Catch up on some reading or television viewing.
- Engage your artistic side: write a book, movie, or learn to play an instrument.
- Stay on your regular wakeup routine, but reward yourself with some extra nap time throughout the day. This makes for an easier transition when the semester starts anew in spring.
The Third: Assess where you are academically.
Winter break is a great time to look back on where you are for the year and for the entirety of your schooling.
You will probably want to spend most of your time on the last 18 weeks, which is perfectly acceptable since that will have the most bearing over how well you need to do on your final exams. But if you are a college student (or soon-to-be), it can be a pretty smart use of time to take inventory.
Doing a roundup of where your good grades are, which subjects come easy for you, that sort of thing, can go a long way in helping you to select a major or solidify the one that you are in. So reflection does not have to be strictly for the short term.
Keep that in mind as you collect your thoughts.
If it all feels too overwhelming, just start where you are. What classes have you taken? What were your grades in those classes? Are you happy with what you’ve got? How did you get good (or bad) at that particular subject?
Go down the rabbit hole until you are confident with your answers.
The Fourth: Devise a game plan for when you come back.
Why would you want to think about coming back when you are just now going to winter break? Simple. To make the transition back as easy as humanly possible.
We often underestimate the effects of coming back on our time off. Sure, a week or two to yourself feels great until it’s over and you find yourself staring back at one obligation after another piled atop your daily responsibilities.
As you get older, you may not even look forward to vacations because of this reality — unless!
That’s right, you can alleviate the problems of reentry if you take a little time before winter break begins to think about all the items that you are going to have to tackle when you get back.
The act of laying everything out on paper also provides an opportunity to address things that cannot or should not wait until you come back from the holidays.
Generally speaking, if it is an obligation that you do not wish to tackle right now but should, then it is going to make life that much worse when you return to school. By coming up with your reentry game plan now, you can find time for these annoying responsibilities in the present as well.
And that will make January so much more manageable and not something to be dreaded on the night before your return.
So to sum up, what would a good game plan accomplish?
- It would tackle immediate problems now rather than later.
- It would map out your major obligations with realistic or assigned due dates.
- It would help prioritize the things that you have on your plate.
- It would break all those responsibilities down into a manageable day-by-day task sheet with all necessary action steps.
- It would identify where to spend your most energy on the first 5-10 days back from winter break.
The Fifth: Reevaluate the past semester.
We’ve already jumped the gun a little on this one (if you read point four), but it is worth expanding on. The previous semester (or soon-to-be, rather) deserves a granular look because many of the concepts that were once unfamiliar and maybe still not extra familiar to you are still fresh.
If you want to properly reflect and attain a positive change, it is important that you go back and review each unit of study.
Be honest about what you do and do not know. Too often, we like to give ourselves more credit than what we actually deserve on something because we don’t want to do the extra work that it takes to become proficient.
When there are no grades immediately on the line and it is just a matter of you being honest with yourself, take advantage of the freedom you are afforded. If you stink at something, admit it. Then ask the simple question of why.
Keep drilling on a subject or key concept until you have found the weak link in your understanding of the topic. Once you have, you will be able to take corrective action.
The Sixth: Don’t wait to implement good habits.
You have heard of the New Year’s Resolution, no doubt. It’s that promise people make to themselves about a month or two weeks ahead of Jan. 1 — the promise they have no real intention of keeping.
If a New Year’s Resolution is worth doing, you will start doing it now. You will not wait until you get to the “magical” day, turn the switch, and suddenly be in a great position to achieve your goal.
Putting things off that you know you should be doing, in other words, is a recipe for failure.
When you don’t frame your resolutions as New Year’s Resolutions, you give yourself permission to start them now with your day-to-day routines.
As a result you are more likely to incorporate better practices in a context with limited pressure. It is a context in which your goals have a much better chance of sticking.
By pushing those goals out to Jan. 1, you make a bigger production of things than you should, and you heighten the impact of failure if you perchance to have a setback. That’s usually what causes people to give up.
Instead of setting these lofty goals and pushing them out to a month from now, ask yourself which of the action steps you can take today when no one is watching or holding you accountable.
Incorporate just one of those action steps into your life as it is now. Find a place for it, and watch what happens.
You do not have to solve all of your problems in a few weeks. In fact, most challenges take months to conquer, but you will never get to that end result without taking the first steps. So implement the good study, prep, and organizational habits now rather than later. Make them Dec. 1 resolutions instead of New Year’s Resolutions, and they’re more likely to have made an impact a year from now.
The Seventh: Visit with your professors and instructors.
Whether in high school or college, your teachers can provide invaluable support and guidance for where you are and where you are going.
While finals can require a lot of study, the impending winter break also can bring with it a disruption of routines. People are winding down even as they are getting ready for the last test or project.
You can use this to your advantage by making appointments with teachers before or after class or speaking to them during conference periods when your other classes are experiencing some downtime.
As you sit down with them, make sure that you have a clear idea of the things you are going to discuss ahead of time and stay on point as much as possible. If you have a great rapport with the teacher and they don’t mind a little back-and-forth, that’s fine. But do pay heed to the next point.
The Eighth: Be mindful of other people’s time and schedules.
At the same time that classes experience downtime in the buildup for winter break, that doesn’t mean your teachers are having trouble filling their time. They have papers to grade, final reports to make, and, oh yeah, personal lives. (Hard to believe, but true.)
You will want to make sure that anything you do which requires another person — this goes for study groups, too — is respectful of time and schedules.
Keep in mind that people travel during the holidays. They leave early. They take vacation time. It can be a logistical nightmare, so make sure that if you have any obligations involving others that need tied up, you do so before all the required parties are out of town.
Now would be a good time to start, especially if your winter break begins on Dec. 18 like most schools.
The Ninth: Put together study times and schedules.
Good news/bad news.
The bad news is that it’s Nov. 30, possibly Dec. 1, by the time you are looking at this, so the window of preparation for finals is getting shorter and shorter.
The good news: there is still time to develop a useful action plan to help get you through semester exams with the best possible shot at success. You just have to connect the dots between what you do know, what you don’t, and maximize the remaining time.
Let’s say you’re starting on Dec. 1 (a Friday).
Take the weekend to lay out your strengths and weaknesses in a given subject. Break it down by chapter, unit, or concept. Be as granular as you can with your focus. Then, start your action plan as soon as possible.
In this scenario, we will say Dec. 4 (a Monday).
You now have to calculate when your semester exams are. It is likely most will not be on Friday (Dec. 18). Many will probably be before.
You now have to exercise your skills at prioritization. Which tests will be the most challenging? How much time do you have before you have to take them?
Focus most of your efforts on those topics and make the most of the days that you have. Don’t try to do too much on one day in that particular area, or you will start noticing diminishing returns.
It’s a balancing act, and while it’s an act you should have probably started sooner, there is still plenty of time to get serious about things.
You also will find much of the classwork, homework, and previous exams that have come before right now to be helpful in bridging the distance between where your understanding is and where it needs to be.
But it all starts with a plan.
And the Final Winter Break Prep Suggestion: Go to six-day weeks (temporarily).
Eliminating weekends may not sound like a lot of fun, but it can go a long way in making the winter break more enjoyable because it expands the amount of time that you have to take care of your to-do list.
When you get more of your items crossed off the list, you enjoy greater peace of mind on the winter break itself. Also, it is a temporary thing so it’s not like you are losing those Saturdays forever.
Aside from those two details, you will appreciate the time off that you do get even more and will probably be able to make more out of it.
Here’s hoping that you already have started your winter break preparations, but if not, you have plenty of time to start. Hit as many of these as you can and enjoy the holiday. You earned it!
[Featured Image by Caregiver Help]