Achieving Balance Over Break


If you are like most Princeton students you really need a break right about now to recharge, yet you also have a number of academic and other tasks you want to make progress on. You also want to have some time with family and friends, if possible. Whether you remain on campus or not, in order to achieve balance over break, you will probably need to do some prioritizing and planning and make a schedule for your academic work at the very least. Sounds antithetical to a "break" I know, but if you want to have guilt-free fun and get done what you must so that you don't feel dissatisfied or even more stressed when classes resume, it's a necessary step.

To get started take a few minutes to jot down the most important things you want to do in the following categories: SOCIAL, FAMILY, ACADEMIC, OTHER (e.g. applications for internships, MCATs, etc.). Now look at that master list. It's probably too long. What can you remove? Instead of "hoping" to get them all done, commit to getting a few top-priority items completed in each category. Trying to do too much can undermine your efforts to finish essential tasks, so really focus.

Now for each item, break it down into concrete, specific actions you can take. Entries like "write paper" or even "paper intro" are too big. Better are more granular items with specific verbs like "brainstorm ideas for thesis" and after that "draft thesis statement". Slice the tasks into pieces that would take 20-30 minutes to complete. Now look at your week and plug these tasks into time blocks around other activities, especially activities with family and friends that rejuvenate you. Get this work done early in the week and early in the day, if at all possible, so they aren't hanging over your head and you can truly enjoy yourself. Our handout, "Making Your Time More Productive" will give you more ideas for using your time productively and achieving a balance between rejuvenation and productivity.