Unwrap some free time this holiday

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Don’t spend the break fulfilling obligations

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. Dec. 9, 2015

The holidays are a perfect time to get all your loved ones together and share in the merriment that is the end of a year. However, getting a group of people together—at an optimal time for everybody—is not always as simple as creating a Facebook event. While it makes sense to break apart your schedule and share it with those you love, you must also remember that the holidays are a time for yourself. You too need a break.

If you are a proactive person, you’ll know that free time fills up pretty quickly. You might even try to slot a couple events into one day just so you can fill your holiday socializing obligations. But this is also the perfect time for you to forget about people and get ahead on all the stuff you didn’t have time for during the hurly burly of the year.

It’s easy to lose track of time. Getting lunch with a couple friends can easily turn into a full-day affair. Not that the time was wasted, but the book you were meaning to read, the project you were planning to work on, and all the activities you finally had time for will be pushed back. We often mistake motion with progress. The act of doing something, anything, feels like accomplishment enough. The fact that we got out of the bed today was a victory. However, our time is valuable, even during the holidays, and should be treated as such.

Now, I understand that the last thing anybody wants to do during the holiday is live by a schedule, but if you want some structure in your life, building a schedule does it—it keeps you accountable. Nobody else has to know about this schedule but you. Still, it must be treated sacredly. It matters. On the schedule, map out all the stuff you want to accomplish by the end of your break. You can be as ambitious or lax as you want, but the key is to have goals. It can be as simple as finishing a book, jogging an extra mile, or even something more ambitious like learning a new language. Then plot these activities into the calendar and treat those days as if they are work.

The fear is that you’ll fall into indolence and lose all the momentum you had during the year. Of course you are allowed to sleep in, and those days are as important as the party nights or the productive days. Keeping the ball rolling is awesome, but remember that not every day needs to be productive. You set days for focusing on certain tasks; you should also set days for rest. It’s like a workout calendar. Rest days are the days you leave completely empty. These are the days when you find stillness in your life. These are the days you can stay in your pajamas, read a book, watch a movie, or have lunch with one or two friends. These are the days where you are forbidden from going around running errands. These are the treats of the holidays, and you can be as selfish as you want.

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