Nine Ways to Have a Productive Winter Break

How to Have a Productive Winter Break

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It’s almost here! Two full weeks when you don’t have to worry about studying for exams or getting up early for class. It’s tempting to forget all of your responsibilities and just give in to the spirit of the season, but there’s more to winter break than eating pie and building snowmen.

1. Update your résumé or LinkedIn profileThis doesn’t take more than an hour or two, but it’s really important to stay on top of your professional appearance. Plus, updating your résumé is a lot easier when your recent accomplishments are fresh in your mind—and a LinkedIn profile is really just a virtual copy of your résumé. Keeping everything up to date ensures a) that you’re not having to scroll through emails or wrack your brain to remember old job responsibilities, and b) that your résumé is ready to go the next time you apply for a job.

2. Clean out your closet. People generally have too much stuff, so take an afternoon while you’re home to clean out your closet, your dresser, and whatever you have hidden under your bed. Make piles for items you want to keep, items you want to sell, and items you want to donate. Then, follow through. List items for sale on ebaydecluttr, or thredUP, and bring items that you want to donate to Goodwill. Ask for a receipt and you can get a tax break come April.

3. Apply for scholarships or internshipsDepending on where you are in your college (or high school) career, you may be interested in pursuing job opportunities or pursuing money to help fund your education. Use the time you have over winter break to search and apply for these opportunities. Scholarships are handed out all the time; you just need to find the scholarship that matches your talents and for which you fit the prerequisites. Internships are a little harder to find, so leverage your network.

4. Read for fun. Reading is a calming experience, but it also builds your vocabulary and can make you a better conversationalist. If you need a break from the holiday madness, fill your alone time with a book instead of scrolling through Instagram or getting lost in the depths of reddit. We recommend Educated by Tara Westover if you’re into nonfiction, and Crazy Rich Asians if you prefer something a little less heavy.

5. Spend time with family and friends. Time spent relaxing with your loved ones is what winter break is all about. Take a break from your phone and social media to hang out with your siblings and your parents. Go out for lunch with friends from high school who are also back in town for break. Whatever you decide to do, do it together.

6. Job shadow. If you, your parents, or your professors know someone who works in the industry that you’re interested in pursuing, ask if you can be a shadow for a day to learn more about their job. This is a great way to figure out whether you’re more interested in the idea of an industry or the industry itself. If you like what you see, you may be able to talk your way into an internship or summer job. If you hate the experience, you know what jobs you can cross off your “what do I want to be when I grow up” list.

7. Prepare for next semester. Whatever you need to do to start fresh in January, do it! Maybe you need to organize your notes from last semester, clean out your backpack, or buy new supplies. Maybe your email inbox has gotten out of control and could use a little love. Maybe you have that one teacher or professor who already assigned a reading before the start of the semester. Take a few hours to prepare over the break so you’re not starting from behind when classes resume.

8. Set expectations for the new year. Call it a New Year’s resolution or just think of it as eliminating any bad habits you’ve developed so far. If you took a morning class last semester and didn’t make it to all of the sessions on time, tell yourself that you’re going to get in the habit of waking up early (and start practicing over break). If you know that you need to spend more time studying a particular subject, create a schedule or start using a planner. If you want to be better about keeping in touch with friends and family, schedule monthly Skype or FaceTime dates.

9. Catch up on chores. We all avoid going to the doctor’s office and scheduling dentist appointments, but it’s better to get those chores done now than in the middle of the semester. Winter break is a great time to get new prescriptions for any medications you take, take your car for an oil change and tune up, and finally dry clean that jacket that you’ve been ignoring.

What will you be doing over winter break?

About Megan Clendenon

Megan C. is obsessed with Cincinnati-style chili, Louisville basketball, and Scandinavian crime fiction. She has lived in six different states and held 12 different jobs since beginning her undergraduate degree at Carleton College in 2008. The wanderlust abated somewhat in recent years, as Megan settled in Texas from 2013 to 2016 to finish a master’s degree in geosciences, write a thesis on the future horrors that stem from climate change, and get married. During her free time, you will find Megan sitting on the couch, cheering for her Louisville Cardinals, planning future adventures abroad, and snuggling with her dog, Tiger. She currently lives outside of Washington D.C.

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