The more I talk to people about scheduling and making time for things, the more I see that everyone is busy in their own way. Everyone puts less important things off so that they can finish more important tasks. Everyone has at least a few items on their to do list that they wish they could check off but just cannot find the time to tackle. Everyone has this sub-list of pesky to do’s that have been lingering around for months. Most of us, however, just do not have the time to cross them off the list.
Items like these are the ones that appear on my, and should appear on your, winter break to do list. With about a month off from school, there is a bit more free time for us undergrads. If you are like me, however, there is not much time. Between working, catching up with friends, and preparing for the next semester it is hard to find the time to get around to that winter break to do list. It seems infinitely easier to procrastinate with the excuses that you worked hard all semester, you deserve a break, and you have all month to get to that list. Do NOT fall into this trap. The spring semester is just around the corner, and it will be here before you know it. Before you are thrust into another semester of hectic day-to-day tasks (with no room for tackling those pesky to do’s) it is important to start attacking that winter break to do list early. After all, it is like I always say, if you start early you will not have to panic and rush later.
I will admit that it is hard. I have always complained that over winter break it is nearly impossible to get things done. The break is short, the weather makes you want to sleep all day and stay inside, and the holiday gives you a reason to sit back and watch television or read all day. Falling into this trap, however, is avoidable. By following these three simple pointers, you can turn your quick winter break into a productive and relaxing vacation …
- Give yourself a day or two just to relax. If you jump into your to do list too soon you risk burning out early. Take a few days off in the beginning just to relax and catch up on some much-needed sleep. It is not only important to be well rested, but it is also important to get laziness out of your system. Later on when you want to procrastinate you will no longer have the excuse that you deserve a vacation, because you will have already had it.
- Have a solid list. Having a to do list that is either too short or to long is not productive. If the list is too short, you will not use your time wisely and you will not accomplish much over your holiday. Having a list that is too long is also counter-productive, because there is a good chance that you will not be able to get to every item on it. This will lead you to a stressful and unfulfilling vacation. How long is long enough, you ask? This depends on you. For me about 15 items seems perfectly reasonable. If you are just a beginner when it comes to scheduling, perhaps you should try less.
- Group the items and budget your time. Grouping your items according to themes can make it seem like there are less of them. It can also help you budget your time better. Take my list for example. My list has 15 items, 6 of which fall into the category of cleaning: cleaning out my closet, cleaning out my desk, cleaning out my computer files, ect. I have grouped all of these items into the first week of vacation so that I can work within a clean space for the rest of the break. This helped me budget my times because I gave each day this week one cleaning task (since these were medium-sized tasks). Another example of this might be grouping together the tasks that fall under the category of “errands”. You could run all your errands in one day to prevent multiple trips over the break.
Keeping on top of your winter to do list is the only sure-fire way to ensure that you complete it. If you keep putting the list off, you will wind up rushing to finish it during the last week of vacation. If you start the list early, you can enjoy that last week and enter the spring semester well rested and refreshed. Make sure to keep your list in a visible spot, and do NOT procrastinate. Click here for your two minutes of procrastination.