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Opinion

The benefits of productivity, making the most out of this J-Term break

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December 16, 2011

A quick weekend, cramming for finals, wrapping up responsibilities, packing and then going home for the holidays! While a full month off seems to offer endless time to be productive, many students find themselves scrambling the last few days of January to finish their J-Term to-do list.

Everyone has different priorities, be it money, volunteer hours, academics, relaxing, or socializing. Whatever your needs, try being more proactive with your goals this year: know what needs to be done and when you will accomplish it. Many students spend their J-Term working. It is always a good idea to call up your employer and ask for some extra hours. Whether you receive one or five days a week, money of any amount helps pay the inevitable bills. The extra income helps relieve financial pressures and prepare for future expenses.

Another common commitment comprises of focusing on academics. This time offers an easy way to catch up or get ahead. Many students do so by taking a J-Term class (registration is still open), but others may study to establish a firmer foundation for the next semester’s classes. While studying sounds horrible after an exhaustive semester, a simple hour each day could make a huge difference in understanding future classes and preventing frantic catch-up games after classes start.

Once you choose important ways to remain productive over this month-long break, be sure to not forget the real reason for J-Term: to relax through laziness and socializing. Take time to recover from fall semester’s burn-out and to refresh for the spring with a lazy day. Dedicate an entire day to do nothing but enjoy life in a stress-free, chill way. For some, this involves pajamas, cookies and a movie marathon. Others may focus on a hobby that they neglected during the school year. With this wonderful day in mind, remember to also include a day to bond with family and old friends. During hectic school months, reliable friends can make a huge difference in your sanity, so keep relationships strong. Whatever your method of relaxing, set aside some days for mental rejuvenation.

If, after work, school, and relaxing, you still find empty days in your calendar, do things you never have time for during the school year. Volunteer for a day at Feed My Starving Children, visit a science or art museum, catch a play at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater, walk through the zoo exhibits, or simply explore different towns. Plan a few Kodak-worthy days to develop fond memories and fun stories to share when you return to campus for spring semester. This activity is essential because it balances the seriousness of work and academics with the laziness of relaxing; it brings fun and joy into your life.

Finally, small daily improvements are easy to make over JTerm. This month offers a time to create a healthier lifestyle since it lacks the craziness and distractions of college life. Add daily exercise, journaling, or meditation to your life—a habit that can continue into the school year to keep you feeling centered and ready to work hard. Question your involvements on campus and whether they truly enhance your life. Search for ways to improve your life, big or small, and make the necessary changes.

With J-Term just around the corner, use a cramming break to list all you want to do over vacation. Include everything on this list from obvious must-dos like working or classes, to new daily habits, to fun and relaxing times. Leave nothing out. Then, hang this list on your mirror or fridge so you remember to make this your best J-Term ever. Enjoy!

Jaime Haines is an exuberant puppy-lover and “House” addict and plans to use her psychology degree to encourage activism and well-being through counseling, workshops, speeches, and the written word.