Next week, we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving. As a person, I love the holidays – I love the cooking, the festivities, and the family fun. However, the teacher in me hates that 6-week stretch from mid-November to Christmas. Why? It’s pure chaos. Students are panicking about the end of the term exams and papers, and I’m trying to cook, clean, and grade everything without losing my mind. It’s a stressful time for all involved. That said, there are some strategies you can employ to make sure you have a productive and relaxing holiday season – or at least a more relaxing holiday season.

Make a List of Important Dates

November and December are prime months for term papers, presentations, and final exams. They are also busy months filled with teacher conferences, holiday parties, and winter concerts. So, list all the important dates you need to remember. Once you do that, you can start figuring out a more concrete schedule.

Prioritize

Not all assignments or events are created equal. You want to make sure you’re focusing your energy on the big-ticket items. Make a list of all the major assignments and the mandatory engagements. Figure out how much time you’ll need to devote to those obligations, and create a schedule that will allow you to make the most out of your time.

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

If you’re like me, you probably plan your holiday meals down to the second. You make sure you have enough time to wash, chop, slice, dice, roast, broil, mash, sauté, and bake.  Do the same thing for your school work. Develop a very detailed and thorough plan of attack. Give yourself plenty of time (hint: use your list of priorities mentioned above to create a realistic timetable). If you can, spread your work over several days. Avoid waiting until the last minute to write that term paper or study for that final exam. You’re more likely to do well and less likely to get overwhelmed if you take things bit-by-bit.

Practice Self-Care

The holiday season has a way of making even the most well-adjusted individual a little crazy. Likewise,  the end-of-the-term chaos can overwhelm even the most diligent student. You add holiday madness to the end-of-the-term madness, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. What can you do to stay grounded? Make a point to do something for you. Take time for yourself every single day. You don’t need to jet off to the spa or go to a ballgame. Just set aside 15 minutes each day to relax – take a break from studying or holiday prepping.  Practice self-care by

* Reading a book or at least a portion of a book (no textbooks allowed!)
*Taking a walk around the neighborhood
*Having an extra cup of coffee
*Having a nice glass of wine (only if you’re over 21)
*Playing a round of Sudoku (one of my favorites)
*Taking a power nap
*Having a quick dance party
*Meditating

The holiday season can be a magical and joyous time. Stay focused and organized, and enjoy it!