Year after year the Christmas holidays were a time for you to forget education and bask in glorious merriment with copious amount of sugar. Your biggest worry was probably, “How am I going to get out of Aunt Judy’s carol night this year?… Yes. I definitely have a fever.” But now in the thick of a Design degree there is so much more to worry about.
Here at WSA hand-in is the fourteenth of January. With Christmas looming the time feels even shorter. There is no way to avoid it, the holidays will be rammed full of project refinement, fights with printers and lots of folder prep, all juggled with present-buying, family gatherings and the yearly skating trip. You are not going to get to watch Jack Frost this year. Or are you? This is my third year of the festive juggling act and this time I’m definitely employing some tactics to get me through.
Like most students I’m going back ‘home’ to my parents for the holidays. As tempting it is to escape at the moment my Friday tutorial is over, this year I’m not. Instead I’m going to use the weekend to collate all my work into a big plastic box and to take my time deciding what pieces of equipment I’m going to need to get my work done. It’s tempting not to bother with the small things like rubbers, but with no one creative living at my parents any more rubbers can be surprisingly hard to come by.
I’ve already asked my dad if he can put up an old desk in the room I’m staying in. You can’t underestimate the importance of having a usable work space to call yours even over Christmas, it’s essential for getting the best quality work done and when you’re there people will know you’re working so are less likely to pester you.
Once I get home is when the real struggle starts. My mum is a childminder and she employs my cousin, whose son is my Godson, as her assistant. So, three people, who I love to spend time with will present all day, every day! That’s a major distraction. But I find it good to remind myself that if I work more before Christmas Eve then I will have less to do on the days that really matter.
I’m staying off the booze until the twenty-fourth, partly because I like my liver, thanks, but also so I can be fully productive. I can’t do my best work with a foggy head.
Don’t worry the mulled wine will be flowing come Christmas eve.
The best way for me to keep on track is to plan the days, and I’ve already started. The first thing I’ve put into the plan are the big non-uni commitments like the spa day with my mum and her friends, my Godson’s fourth birthday party and the yearly family ice skating trip. Then I’ve allowed myself some of the small things that make Christmas special, like carols round the tree at the local church. From the left over time I’ll plan uni work sessions and closer to the time I’ll attach to-do lists to the slots. I don’t want to get burnt out so I’ve left time for breaks, some free evenings and generous lunch breaks each day.
When planning work sessions I need to consider where I’ll be. I know at the start of the holidays I’ll be at my parents’ but then I’m going to Phill’s parents and after Boxing Day I’m heading north to spend time with my parents’ family in West Yorkshire. So I should plan physical work for the start and get more digital throughout. By the time I’m in the hotel I won’t have desk space and work time will be sporadic so it will be better to do small design tweaks or to edit written pieces; the sort of thing I can dip in and out of. The great thing about Graphic Design coursework is the versatility in the types of activities that need doing. It stops something I’m so passionate about becoming a chore and means there are bits I can do no matter where I am.
Even with all my planning I’ve kept some days off limits: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are all to be untouched. This New Year’s Eve you’ll find me at the cinema watching Star Wars – yes we’ve booked it already – then heading home for pizza and bubbly. It’s my plans for these important days and the other special things that will keep me working.
I know it’s easy to get consumed by deadline stress but remember: it’s Christmas! You’ve worked hard all year so don’t upset these end of year festivities by denying yourself the things you love. Fit your work around them not the other way round. So, go ahead, put your feet up and watch a cheesy movie. You’ve earned it.