It’s December. You’ve worked hard this semester. You could really use a real break between semesters to rest and recharge.
To make it more likely that you will take that break and be refreshed by it, I propose a couple of things.
- Tie up the loose ends on this semester so it feels finished.
- Have a plan for after the break, so you don’t have to worry about that while you are having your break.
- Have a plan for what rest and relaxation are going to look like for you.
Getting through next week
If your life is particularly chaotic right now, it might be hard to even think about planning. You can’t think about next semester, or the break, if you can’t even see your way through next week.
If you feel like you are dropping more balls than you’re keeping in the air, try the Emergency Planning Technique. If the phrase “most important” causes you to freeze, then just pick one thing. It can be an easy thing. Getting a couple of things off your list gives you a feeling of accomplishment that helps quell the panic.
Once you have enough brainspace to think, go through the list with the following question, Does this REALLY need to be done this week?
Anything to which the answer is yes is urgent & important. Remember, if you are having trouble getting to things because your students are more needy than usual, that’s an urgent thing. Schedule an extra office hour or 2. Schedule extra time to deal with student email. You are going to feel much more in control if there are clear containers to put those requests in.
The following are always important and should stay on your list:
sleep, meals, exercise, spending time with your partner and kids (if you have them), writing. Stopping doing these will make you feel like you are dropping balls even if you get all the grading and teaching and whatnot done. Furthermore, those things nourish you and ensure you have the energy to do the other stuff.
You can do your minimum on those things.
- Write for 15 minutes a day
- Eat easy meals: take-out, restaurant, frozen… Keep them healthy but reduce preparation.
- Do 15 minute exercise things as breaks between other activities: a short yoga routine, a brisk walk, etc.
- Work a bit later than ideal in the evening but make sure to allow time to unwind before you go to bed and go to bed at a reasonable time. Or, collapse in the evening, go to bed early, and wake up earlier than usual to fit in an extra hour while the house is quiet.
Get through this week. Everything beyond the minimum is a win.
Edited 29 November 2016.