The thing about HESPA’s online Master’s program is that we go year round. Unlike literally every other college student in the United States, we don’t finish up our semesters a few weeks before Christmas and then have a whole month of frolicking in the snow before we have to worry about homework and papers and professors again. Instead, we work right up until Christmas Eve, get a week off to enjoy the festivities, and then go right back to work on New Year’s Eve.
As a result, it’s pretty dang hard to find the willpower to sit down and get things done while your friends, significant other, and college students everywhere are rejoicing in their new-found free time. So here are some tips on how to rally and get your stuff done so you don’t turn into the Grinch out of pure jealousy:
1) Make your environment one in which you like to be. This means different things for different people, but for me, I have to be cozy before I can focus enough to get to work. That means sweatpants, my couch, Christmas lights, and if my husband is feeling nice, some hand delivered hot chocolate. If I’m sitting at an uncomfortable desk in a sterile environment, all I can think about is how much I want to take my shoes off and get comfy, rather than the work itself.
2) Related, make your environment one in which you can focus. I used to pride myself in being able to tune anything out, but lately, I’ve noticed that I’m turning into a newborn puppy. Any little thing can [and does] grab my attention, which makes it difficult to focus on my thrilling homework. I put on my giant headphones filled with Explosions in the Sky, or lately, the James Taylor Christmas album and tune out the sounds of football on tv and my husband repeatedly throwing darts at the dartboard, since he doesn’t have homework to worry about for a whole month.
3) Set aside time for work and time for play. It’s an unattractive quality, but I tend to whine when everyone is having fun without me. Ben and I knew that we wanted to cut down our own tree and decorate the apartment for Christmas, but I also knew for that to happen, we’d have to plan it out a few days in advance. On Sunday night, I mapped out my schedule for the week based on due dates and my work schedule. I knew that Thursday I didn’t have work, nor was anything due the next day, so we planned on that afternoon to do Christmas-y things. This motivated me to sit down and do my homework so I’d have it finished and be able to devote time to decorating for the holiday, and in a way, being able to spend that time completely focused on making new traditions with my husband felt like a reward for staying on task earlier in the week.
I hope this helps those of you who have to keep on working while everyone else gets to play! And for those of you are finishing up your semester and then get to be free: enjoy your time. Happy Holidays!