I’m only three weeks into the new semester, and I already need a break. College is a lot like the Cobra Kai gang: no mercy.
I had the absolute pleasure to have about three solid weeks off between end of fall semester and the beginning of winter semester, and it seems like it flew by. I had all these grand plans of deep-cleaning the condo, reading the stack of books collecting dust on my shelf, workint out, and taking Scarlett for walks every day (if you haven’t met Scarlett yet, she’s my birthday-and-Christmas-combined surprise from Stephen: a fluffy, adorable, snuggly mini Australian Shepherd with blue eyes and a heart of gold. Seriously, go look at my Instagram. She’s amazing).
woke up to this sweet girl in a shiny red bow and even more presents under the tree, all from the greatest Christmas gift of all, my wonderful husband. I'm so incredibly blessed, and I am so in love with our little family. ❤️ #merrychristmas #firstchristmasasalowisz #igotapuppyforchristmas #besthusbandever
You know what I’m talking about. The best of intentions can turn into the longest Netflix binges, and before you know it, your house is a mess, break is over, and you’ve gotten nothing done. Alright, I admit, this is exactly how my break went for the first half or so, until I finally woke up and got my crap together. Now that we’re in a new semester, I have two days off per week (and thus zero excuses), so I’ll be able to power my way through task after task. Don’t be like me. Start out strong, keep on, and finish strong. How? Well, I’m so glad you asked.
How to make the most of time off:
1. Know what you want to do
Way, wayyyyy ahead of time, start putting together a list of all the things that need to get done on your time off. I like to use OneNote to keep a running list on my phone of anything that comes to mind, since I more than likely won’t be able to remember it later. Keep track of what chores need to be completed, what projects you want to get done, any movies you want to watch in your spare time … anything.
2. Go in with a solid plan
Once you have an idea of what your day(s) is/are going to look like when you’re off, put together a schedule for getting things done. I’m currently obsessed with Plan, an app that lets you create to-do lists and actually schedule them so you get reminders of when to start tasks and when they end. It’s amazing.
Schedule out each of your to-do items for the day ahead of time. This can either be all at once before your time off starts or each day as it goes. I personally prefer sitting down in the evening, looking at my remaining to-dos, and scheduling the next day so I better have a grasp on what’s going on, how much time I have, and what I’m realistically likely to get done.
3. Leave time for breaks
Breaks are incredibly important when used properly. Some people find working for an hour or so then taking a short break works for them, while others (like me) find they do their best when they crank out a few hours then take a longer break. Whatever your style, make sure to leave room for one or two hours of down time per day. Use that time to catch up on the latest Blindspot episode (our current obsession), knit a few rows, or do any other relaxing activity that helps you recharge.
That being said, don’t overdo it with the breaks. Please. This completely defeats the purpose of breaks. They’re supposed to give you a quick reprieve in order to regroup and attack.
4. Figure out how you work best
A few months ago, I was given a suggestion that completely changed my life (and no, I’m not even exaggerating): listen to audiobooks while you get work done.
I know what you’re thinking. Wait, what? Why would that do anything? I was skeptical at first, too, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. I could clean for hours and hours without it even bothering me. Try it. Trust me.
But hey, maybe you work best with some serious metal blasting in the background. Maybe you need to go run and work off a bunch of energy before settling down to get stuff done. Or chewing bubble gum helps you focus. Whatever your deal is, find it and use it.
5. Stay on track
This is the tough part, especially when you’re in “I have time off and can do whatever I want” mode. You can make up the prettiest, most detailed plan but end up getting next to nothing done. If you mess up and totally play hooky on the last half of your to do list one day, don’t freak out and take the rest of the week off. Get back on the horse and keep charging forward! The same goes for those of us who only have a day or two off. If you miss getting your next task started, just plow on ahead! Give yourself permission to move things around, be flexible, and roll with the punches, just don’t give up!
6. Treat yo self
If you’re anything like me, staying focused and actually accomplishing things for an extended period of time is no easy task. Celebrate when you’ve gotten everything done! Whether that comes in the form of watching an extra episode of New Girl after a particularly successful day or splurging for the tattoo you’ve been coveting after completing a major home project, celebrate! Rewarding yourself makes getting things done more fun. You have something to look forward to!
What’s your best success tip for getting the most out of your time off? Let me know in the comments below!