Winter break: a month (hopefully) full of rest and relaxation. The weeks after winter break: minimal hours of sleep and high levels of stress for pretty much all Princeton students. When the time comes, it is non-stop work until finals are over. If you are anything like me, it is easy to trick yourself into feeling like there is no work to be done over winter break. You get lulled into this false sense of reality, one in which your papers and exams aren’t due for another month. So, you binge-watch a Netflix show (or a few) and sleep in. However, this makes you susceptible to getting hit, hard, by the work waiting for you when you get back to campus. This is something I was afraid of during my first year here, so I did everything I could to overcompensate for this possibility. I ended up working throughout the entire break, not really giving myself any time to relax, which was not ideal, and I saw others who didn’t work at all, which also was not ideal. By junior year, after many trials and errors, I’ve figured out some tips that work for me to achieve a happy medium between rest and productivity over winter break.
So, how do you stay on the grind during winter break? How do you avoid slipping into a month-long Netflix binge?
- The first step is to make a To-Do List of all the assignments you want to complete before getting back to campus (plus, checking things off of my list makes me feel accomplished!). I usually organize them from easiest tasks to the most difficult, taking care of the little things first so that, when the time comes, I can focus on the complex assignments alone. However, this is something you have to prepare for while you’re still on campus: making a list of assignments you want to complete while on break means you need to bring all the necessary materials with you. Pack your backpack with the books you need for each class so you don’t find yourself unable to complete something at home because you left your readings in your dorm! Make sure you set realistic goals for accomplishing your work so that you don’t overload yourself. Try to focus on one thing at a time!
- The next step is to rest. Although this post is about working, getting enough rest is always important, especially after midterms. Take a day or two off; you deserve it! Watch a few episodes of your current Netflix show and eat some nice, home-cooked meals. Spend some quality time with your pet (definitely my favorite way to wind down over a break!). At the end of it, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go.
- From there, make sure you are working efficiently. During my first year, I did a little bit of work every night so that I wouldn’t feel stressed. Instead, when I looked back on my break, I realized I had worked every day and that I hadn’t really given myself any days off. I remember I would also get super distracted; working before bed meant Netflix was usually a strong temptation. I would have much rather taken a few days to concentrate and do all of my work so that I could take the rest of the break off.
Staying afloat during the breaks is difficult, especially during winter break when it feels like you’ve reached the peak of a mountain and you’ve started your descent, but it is so important to get back on the grind and keep your momentum going, after you rest, of course!
—Andrea Reino, Social Sciences Correspondent