Maximizing Your School Vacations

Sumitra Bhat 
Published on
March 4, 2024

What if I told you we have all gotten the concept of vacations or even weekends wrong?

American writer Sam Levenson once said, “Don't watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” Now here’s the catch, vacations are not about hitting the pause button on life; they're about hitting fast forward in the right direction.

You see, holiday homework isn't designed to burden us, but rather a tool to encourage us to use our free time wisely. However, in my opinion, and perhaps yours too, it fails to serve as something beyond a source of headache. I mean, we've all been there, right? Bags flung aside on the last day of school, only to remember there are heaps of homework to tackle before you come back.

With endless free time, vacations are the perfect time for us to work on ourselves. Where we commonly go wrong is indulging in binge-watching various shows and movies and binge-eating, leaving us unfocused and restless. 

It takes one to ask, however, how do you break out of such a cycle and become more productive? Engage in activities that stimulate your mind. Be it reading, exploring new hobbies, or even taking short online courses; stimulating your mind can start anywhere. The goal is not to overwhelm yourself, but to keep the gears of curiosity spinning.

First off, don't sacrifice sleep. American author on well-being Tom Rath emphasizes this notion, emphasizing that “Sleep is an investment in the energy you need to be effective tomorrow.” Waking up late doesn't mean your day is wasted; this goes for weekends too. After resting, organize your day with the hours you have left. Make sure to slip breaks in between working periods to avoid burnout. It might feel like a lazy start, so begin with small vital tasks to get motivated for larger ones.

Being at home more means more time with our favorite family members – our phones. Use them wisely. Unfollow and unsubscribe to whatever you feel is distracting you to tidy up your digital space. Set limits on app time and ask a friend or family member to help you stay on track.

Don't forget your house chores. Give yourself a little reward to make them more enjoyable. Ever heard of habit stacking? It's the secret sauce to introduce new habits seamlessly into your routine. If you've been dedicating an hour a day to reading, don't replace it; build a new habit around it. For example, ‘after I finish reading, I will write in my journal for 10 minutes.’

Getting the hang of learning starts with figuring out how to learn. Vacations provide a unique window for experimenting with diverse study techniques and understanding personal preferences. This includes the famed Pomodoro Technique, breaking study time into 25-minute intervals, and the metaphorical "Candle Blows Out" method, encouraging intense focus until exhaustion. The break from routine allows for self-discovery, unveiling your optimal study hours, preferred type of learning, and preferred learning environments. Balancing work and leisure becomes crucial, ensuring productivity without sacrificing rejuvenation.

Take full advantage of this time to actively seek out both summer and non-summer internships as well as engaging camps that align with your interests. Dive into online resources, watch informative videos, and conduct thorough research to refine your understanding of your future goals, preferred subjects, and potential course choices. Equip yourself with the necessary knowledge well in advance. Whether you're someone who enjoys being out and about or prefers the comfort of your home, consider dedicating some time to network with professionals in your field of interest. If networking is new to you, take this opportunity to learn and develop those crucial skills.

Doing the same things differently can be rewarding during vacations when everything feels different. The key to a good vacation is being consistent. Have fun, but also spend a bit of time each day revising your study material. Keep your curiosity alive without burning yourself out. Let us bring accountability and purpose to our vacations and make every break count.

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