Holiday Distractions - by Emily

Whether you’re in high school or in college, the month leading up to the holidays and the end of the school semester can be distracting amongst all the holiday cheer. The end of the school semester comes with final projects, tests, and class wrap-ups. Along with that comes the stress of holiday gift shopping and present wrapping. It can be tough to juggle the urge to bake holiday cookies and sing carols when you know you have a final to study for! I’ve created a list of five ways to keep you from getting too distracted during the holiday season so that all you’re work can be done in time to sit by the fire and enjoy time with family, friends, and true holiday spirit.

1.     Plan out you’re gift shopping. Whether you’re shopping for Christmas, Hanukah, or any other Holiday this time of year, the month of December is the best and worst time to shop. It’s great because there are many sales and specials along with cute holiday themed items perfect for whomever you are buying for. At the same time, this can complicate things. I know I find myself aimlessly walking around the mall every December overwhelmed with all the options and wasting time wandering into every store trying to find the perfect gift. The key is to think ahead and figure out what you are going to get for who and where the best place is to go so you can get all you’re gifts in one shopping trip. Look for specials daily so you can get the best price. Overall, plan out you’re gift shopping so you can save money and time.

2.     Take Advantage of DVR. I know for me ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas is the most distracting part of the holiday season. I may have a ten-page paper to write for my College Writing final and a Chemistry exam to study for, but when Elf is on how can I not drop everything and watch it? This can very quickly cause problems. What I suggest is to DVR or record the movies you want to watch so you can watch them later when all your work is done. Another perk to that is you get to fast-forward through all the commercials! If you don’t have a DVR, find a friend that does and ask them to record the movies and plan a movie day with them when the semester is over. That way you can get all you’re work done on time without feeling like you are missing out. Then, you can celebrate by embracing the holidays with a movie marathon.

3.     The end of the semester is supposed to motivate you, not discourage you. For many of us, myself included, the end of the semester and winter break nearing can often deter us from our schoolwork. We can see that the end is near, so we get careless and tell ourselves “Oh well, I’m pretty much done anyways, so why bother studying?” Don’t let that be you’re attitude! Use the end of the semester as you’re motivation! Be positive and work hard in your last few weeks of classes and don’t throw away all the work you’ve done in the past semester. Make it count for something and say to yourself “Once I ace this final I can enjoy the holidays on a positive note.”

4.     Procrastinate productively. I understand that it’s hard not to procrastinate on any normal day, so during the holiday season it can be even harder.  I’ve found that there are ways to take a study break while still being productive. Use your gift shopping as a way to take a break, or go to the gym and use that time to listen to Christmas music to get into the spirit. It’s important too to make a list of the things you need to accomplish in the time frame that you have so that you know when you can afford a study break. You don’t have to avoid holiday cheer all together, just be aware of what you need to get done and fit in a study break as part of your schedule.

5.     Be thankful. Thanksgiving is the only holiday that deserves a recollection of all we can be thankful for. Enjoy the little things and treasure the memories. I remember when I was young my sisters and I would wake up at 4:00 on Chirstmas morning just to sit in front of our tree and stare at our presents until our parents woke up, because we weren’t allowed to open presents without them. Those are the little things I miss, but as we all grow older we find more and more things to be thankful for and can appreciate even more about life. During one of your study breaks, think about those less fortunate and make an effort to give to those who need it. There are more opportunities than you’d think to support someone else and spread a little holiday cheer to everyone, especially those who don’t always get to celebrate. So amidst all the overwhelming and exciting things that come with this time of year, make sure you find a moment to sit back, relax, and appreciate.

Happy holidays to everyone! Hope this helps you embrace this season while being as productive as you can.

Emily Thomas is a college freshman at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts majoring in Chemistry and Secondary Education. Originally from Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Emily was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Massachusetts for 2012. Learn more about Emily here!