Winter Break Productivity: It’s a Balancing Act

#DailyWings: “Other things awaited. It was good to be young and to know it for once. So much unfolding to do.” –The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

It’s been a week since I took my last final exam in social psychology and came home for the holidays. After reuniting with my family, receiving notice of my class grades and hanging Christmas stockings up by the fireplace, it feels like everything has fallen into place. Things are as they should be. I’ve taken the last couple of days to relax on my favorite couch at home with Mockingjay in one hand and a mug of hot chocolate in the other. Life is good.

And yet, there is a small tug in the back of my mind, reminding me that something’s not quite right. I have never been able to sit still for very long without getting antsy — especially if I’m not doing work. Leisure is wonderful, but winter break wouldn’t be the same without some productivity, too. Even as I immerse myself in the world of Panem, the thought of internships to apply for, blog posts to write and stories to pitch and always sucks me back into the real world.

Balancing work and play during winter break is like baking a cake. You’ve got ingredients like eggs and flour and coarse ground cinnamon that don’t taste great alone. Then there are the ingredients that make the cake delicious — sugar, fruit, chocolate, frosting. But too much frosting doesn’t make you feel great afterward, either. So what do you do? Measure, mix, bake and add toppings. And there you have a perfect Christmas confection, a product of perfectly blended time, energy and carefully chosen ingredients.

Well, creating a schedule isn’t exactly the same as that, but it’s what I’ve been doing. (Almost) every day, I create a to-do list of all the goals I want to accomplish — both things related to my work and things that give me personal downtime. Hashing out the goals in terms of numbers (do this X amount of times, work on this for Y minutes) makes them more concrete and doable. Below is a basic example of the kind of productivity list that can be helpful for balancing out time between work and leisure.

Your productivity list may be a little bit different, depending on the rest of your schedule and what your goals may be. Also, recently, I discovered an amazing invention: StayFocused, a Google Chrome extension that allows you to block distracting websites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, etc.) of your choice for a certain amount of time. Without this extension, I honestly don’t think my final exam grades would have turned out as well as they did. It has really helped this past week whenever I want to work on an application or poem and find myself steering away to look up memes, gifs and social media. Highly recommended! For Apple users looking for productivity applications, I use Evernote, Weave and WriteChain.

Has the holiday season served a stressor or a period of respite for you? What are some ways in which you stay productive, but also find time for the things you enjoy?
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Speaking of productivity, come join me and 20 other bloggers who have already signed up for Frankie Mallis’s Fourth Annual No-Kiss Blogfest! Here’s the deal: 

“Write a scene or post one from of your favorite books, movies, TV shows, pictures or WIP that show the almost kiss — the rising, crushing, excruciating, longing, tension that comes  when two characters get oh-so-close to kissing that you can just feel it, want it, NEED it….and then…they don’t!”

This will be my third time participating in this blogfest. I have fun every year, and you can bet I’ll be joining in for the beginning of 2013 as well! You can find my previous entries here and here. Be sure to sign up and post your entry by Jan. 2! 

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Dec. 14 — Send one text message wishing someone good luck on her last final exam

12:09 p.m. “I hope your exam went well! :) when it’s done forget about it! You did your best! Btw did the gift ever get there??”

Dec. 15 — Apply for two internships with looming deadlines

  • Sent a story pitch to a health magazine in Boston
  • Applied for a local news internship

Dec. 16 — Read three chapters of “Mockingjay”

Chapters 18, 19 and 20 — completed.

Dec. 17 — Watch all four “Superman” movies (yes, on the same day)

Dec. 18 — Put five extra ornaments on our Christmas tree

Dec. 19 — Write a six-page scene for my NaNoWriMo novel 

Dec. 20 — Add seven new holiday songs to my Spotify playlist

Dec. 21 — Visit eight new blogs (provide any recommendations in comments below!)

Dec. 22 — Meditate for nine minutes. 

Dec. 23 — Bake ten gingerbread cookies! 

Dec. 24 — Take an eleven-minute walk outside

Dec. 25 — Snap twelve photographs capturing the magic of Christmas


5 responses to “Winter Break Productivity: It’s a Balancing Act”

  1. Sophia Chang says:

    That’s an awesome blogest and go you for accomplishing your goals!

    I wish I could relax over break but I’ve chosen a profession that makes me work through it lol. Can’t complain though, I’m in control of my own life so I made this choice.

  2. Mia Hayson says:

    Wendy! Your productivity list is AMAZE! I wish I could write one myself. I have tried but things pile up and before you know it I’m OVERWHELMED by tasks. I much prefer burying my head in the sand and juggling ALL the things.

    Can’t wait for the blogfest!! I have NOTHING prepared but I normally seem to pull something out of nowhere so we shall see what this year holds. Can’t wait to read your entry.


  3. Wow! That’s some list. I also make lists but I’ve started to learn to enjoy the moment in things. I have lots that I want to do but it’s not the end of everything if I don’t get everything done ASAP. I had forgotten how to feel when I create, whether it be dolls or writing. I like that feeling and want to strive for more feelings. Thanks for sharing your list. Have a wonderful holiday.

  4. Hi,

    Would be happy if you join us in the book giveaway of The Light by Ofer Cohen at GoodReads

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