Does anyone else find that this time of year has a tendency to knock you right off the focused path you might be on? The holidays – full of food and, for some, an excess of family – are on the horizon and approaching quickly. This promise of a couple days off to eat and relax frequently pulls my mind right out of the classroom and into distractedly delicious places. Here are a couple of the ways that I am going to try to remain focused and on top of my work in these last few weeks before Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season.
Time Management’s best friend: Your Calendar
Time after time, multiple people have told me that the best way to actually sit down and get my work done is to put my study sessions in my calendar. I hear that this way they hold the same weight as a scheduled doctor’s appointment or a class at school. Have I followed this advice yet? Not quite. Sure, I make a mental four-hour date with myself and the library on a regular basis. Yet, the missing link for me is the accountability that I am sure will come with physically blocking off chunks of time in my calendar. Otherwise, it becomes so easy for me to do countless errands, go on a baking spree, or spend time with friends, all while saying, “I’ll get to that homework… Later.” Note to self: goal for the end of this week – schedule specific study sessions over the course of the following week to get work done for each of my classes.
Take Manageable Bites
Not much feels more overwhelming than a mile-long to-do list that just keeps getting longer. In recovery, we’re equipped with tools like the phrase “one day (or step, or piece of work) at a time”. There’s no reason this can’t apply to the (growing) pile of schoolwork that lies between today and Thanksgiving break. In order to make it through while staying mentally, spiritually, and emotionally sound, small and realistic chunks of work are the key.
Give Yourself Breaks
In the same way that chewable chunks of work are imperative, so too is the act of taking a breather. In fact, #2 and #3 go hand-in-hand. The best part about this one is that a break can look like anything you enjoy doing! In between one stack of work and the next, go for a walk, take a cat nap, watch an episode of your favorite TV show, fill in the blank. The list could go on and on. I have found that this all-around reset button helps make me even more productive whenever I wind up diving back into my next assignment.
Check in with Your Professors and Mentors
If you’re in recovery and you are a student, these two groups of people are invaluable when it comes to staying on track and maintaining healthy behaviors. Life of Purpose knows that getting guidance with schoolwork can turn a daunting week of classes into a conquerable and empowering challenge. Our Academically-Focused Aftercare© program can be accessed as a stand-alone program or as a step down from our intensive outpatient treatment program. This one-of-a-kind treatment program helps Life of Purpose clients to tap into their academic potential by focusing on the skills required to be a rock-solid student as soon as they enter recovery. No matter where you are in school, there should be professors or tutors who are willing to sit down with you to touch base on how you are doing with the class material. This checkpoint is invaluable in that it automatically keeps me (or gets me back) on track. It becomes easier to know exactly where I stand in any given class which, in turn, shows me where I have room to improve.
Get Those Zzz’s
Last but most certainly not least: sleep is key! I have never been one who is able to function well on four or five hours of sleep per night. If that is you, more power to you! If you’re like me, however, a solid seven, eight, or even nine hours leaves me in a much better mental state throughout the day. I have learned (sometimes the hard way) that staying up for an extra hour because an assignment isn’t yet finished isn’t always the best approach. What winds up happening is this: I get drowsy and the quality of my work diminishes. Then, the next morning, I am groggier than I should be and I am less able to absorb new information in class. My go-to self-care move, especially at this point in the year, is to make myself go to bed at a reasonable hour as often as possible. Invariably, it leaves me with the peace of mind that I am giving my body the rest that it needs.
What are your strategies for staying on track as the holidays approach?