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Winter Break or Winter Binge?

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

The beauty of academic life is that glorious 4-6 weeks of break between the fall and spring semesters. But, do you plan to use that break for rest or to binge on writing you "should have" completed during the fall semester?

Many of us we set up writing cycles that are unhealthy, requiring us to binge for days on end (e.g., holiday breaks) to feel productive and we inevitably come back exhausted and burned out.

For me, this started in graduate school...

I would somehow write an entire 30-page paper in the last two weeks of the semester, barely sleeping and definitely not taking time for rest. And all my peers seemed to do the same. We rallied together in coffee shops and library carrels, passing each other in the hallways on campus to commiserate on how exhausted we all were.

To make matters worse, it seemed that all my professors did the same. I would overhear them talking about pulling "all-nighters" to make a deadline on their own publications. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.

When I entered into the professoriate I found that my habit of binge writing continued. I would barely write during the semester and instead would wait until the breaks to make progress.

I spent many Thanksgiving holidays and Christmas celebrations explaining to my friends and family that I had to work. I passed up the ice skating trips, the Black Friday shopping, and all the other holiday traditions for the sake of my writing.

I did make progress, but I noticed something else happened as well. I was unbelievably exhausted!

In the first few weeks of the semester I managed to get my classes off the ground, but not much else. I had not taken any time to rest and so my free moments were devoted to Netflix binges, Instagram, and going down internet rabbit holes. I was, in other words, completely burned out!

These days I make progress on my writing during the semester, so that I don't need to binge. My breaks are actual breaks. And I take entire weeks off to do what I want to do with friends and family. Really!

So, I invite you to take a minute and think:

🤔 How are my writing habits and work schedule impacting my “breaks?”

🤔 Am I satisfied with my work life and level of productivity?

Now is the time to assess where you are —physically, emotionally, mentally. And remember that you don’t need to spend your break working. And you absolutely do not need to feel guilty about it!

If you want to be in a different place for the upcoming Winter Break, you can.

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