By Joseph Gonzalez
Thanksgiving marks the final stretch of the fall semester for most colleges. Final exams are around the corner–you’re essentially in the home stretch. Yet, managing the holiday school work life balance remains a mystery to most.
In the midst of homework and studying, there’s a Thanksgiving dinner you’re sure to attend, and some Black Friday deals might be too good to pass up. Those with jobs, especially in retail, won’t see this weekend as a “break,” especially considering these and other obligations that go hand-in-hand with this time of year.
Even after Thanksgiving break, the grind doesn’t stop. Many students work their butts off trying to make back the money they spent last semester, while trying to fit in holiday shopping and family events at the same time. All this while trying to finish papers, catch up on missed work, and study for final exams before the end of the semester in a few short weeks.
In short, there’s a chance you’ll have your hands full trying to balance schoolwork and your home life over the next month. Where is the time to sit back, enjoy the company of friends and family, and simply experience the magic of the season? When it feels like you won’t have time for everything, take a second to breathe. There are approaches to help get all of your work done, while still having time to enjoy the holiday season.
The holiday school work life balance
Two of my college Thanksgivings were spent slaving at a retail job. My shift started late at night, and ran into the early morning on Black Friday. That was just the first shift of the weekend. Yet, I still completed all of my homework by the time I stepped back onto campus Monday morning.
How did I do it?
It comes down to time management. It may seem like you only have a few weeks left, but it’s so important to finish the semester with a bang, not a whimper. Procrastinating isn’t the way to go.
In fact, procrastinating in doing your work may hurt you in the long run, as a 2015 study done by University of Sheffield professor Fuschia Sirois showed that chronic procrastination can lead to health problems such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease. All signs point to how getting your work done in a timely manner is for the best, and there’s multiple ways to go about it.
Work smarter, not harder
I started my homework and studying even before heading home for break. It’s hard to not have an “I’m finally free” mindset once you leave your last class before break. However, staying in school mode for just a little bit longer is crucial if you don’t want to spend the weekend scrambling to finish your work.
A different 2015 study done by Warwick Business School showed a correlation between a student’s schoolwork grade, and how close they handed in their work to its deadline. The longer that students waited to hand in their work, the worse grade they would get. The inverse was also true, as students who handed in their work earlier ended up getting better grades overall.
But if you think you’re going to be tempted by the sales going on while trying to do homework, there’s a way around making multiple trips to the stores.
Think outside the box (store)
While trying to take on the crazy holiday sales, make online shopping your best friend. Amazon has pretty much anything you can think of, from an Xbox One to the newest Fitbit, and other retailers, such as Target, have great sales on their websites.
You’ve probably seen the videos of Black Friday in places like Walmart. Shopping from your home seems much more plausible than doing the former. Cyber Monday is essentially the online version of Black Friday, and it isn’t just limited to that Monday. Amazon and Walmart already have some great sales that are live at the moment, that way you don’t have to cram your shopping into just one day.
Another way to avoid the lines and craziness of box stores or the mall is to stick local. Whether it’s Small Business Saturday, or any day of the week, it’s not only better for your community’s local economy, but it’s more time efficient to shop local. Remember that cute little shop on the corner of your street, or across from the restaurant where you’re meeting friends? When was the last time you were there? Pop in while you’re running errands, or while you’re waiting for your always-late friend to show up and you’ll have your shopping done in no time at all. You’re also more likely to pick up a one-of-a-kind gift in a local store than you are at a big box store, or online.
Above all else, make sure that you give yourself adequate time to rest. It might require saying no to going out once or twice, but those few extra hours of sleep will help you in the long run.
Having the “all work, no play” mindset for the holiday season will only burn you out by the time you return for the spring. Finding a healthy holiday school work life balance is the best way to spend your holidays, rather than rushing everything at once.