Ways to prepare for the new semester without winter break

EP Presnell

This year, Manual students will not get the regular two week break between semesters, due to the start of school being pushed back two weeks. This means students will go straight from midterms to a new semester. In addition to no break time, Manual will start its new schedule which will include longer classes and four classes a day. It’s an abrupt start and change, one that many aren’t happy about, and it can feel like there is no way to start fresh. To help you out,  here are some tips to help start the semester fresh.

Try to not do work this weekend

The only break students are going to get is a three day weekend, since MLK Day is coming up this Monday. The best way to start fresh is to give yourself time to do something for yourself. Hopefully, not all teachers will assign work that will be due immediately next week, (but even I have some teachers who have) so try to stay off Google Classroom as much as possible. Watch a TV show you’ve been meaning to start, read a book, do something for fun and try not to think about work. Of course, it is most people’s goal to not do work on the weekend, but try taking this Crimson Day on Friday to get your work completed and use this weekend to de-stress so you can feel refreshed on Tuesday. 

Clean your room/workspace

Your room, or wherever you do your school work, is one of the most important places since the beginning of NTI and having it clean is one of the best ways to start fresh. Go through the drawers of your desk, clean the top off, pick up your floor and make the place feel new. This is the best time to scrub off the grime of last semester and start fresh. It might feel pointless, but being in a clean environment will help you be productive once the new semester starts and life gets busy again. 

Make a weekly to-do list

If you’re like me, agendas don’t work for you. I have tried since 3rd grade to find agendas useful, but they just bothered me and I could never stick to them past a few weeks. I’ve tried a lot of different methods of keeping track of my stuff, and weekly lists help a lot. 

I structure mine so that assignments and things with the closest deadline are at the top, and it trickles down to stuff due later in the week. I try to make sure I do one thing for myself everyday, and just making sure I create time for myself feels like a completed task at the end of the day. Keep it somewhere close like on a cork board, dry erase board or on your desk (I recommend keeping a physical copy of it) and mark it off at the end of each night. By the end of the week you’ll have a new one that can be entirely new, or uncompleted things of the previous week. 

Set easy goals for yourself

This one sounds cheesy, and almost like a delayed resolutions plan, but making easy goals for the new semester will help a lot. I suggest making these things that you can ease yourself into over time and that will help you be more productive in the semester. Reflect on how you did last semester and make small changes that will help you do better this time around. Did you let yourself fall behind in a class? Did you slack off more than usual? Maybe you want to turn your camera on during class more? All of these are small things that can be fixed. Write them down, talk about them with a friend and figure out how to beat them with the new semester. A personal goal I have is to be on my phone less and there are lots of ways to make that goal a reality, it just requires some planning. 

Step away from screens

This is perhaps one of the most important ways I can recommend starting a new semester. Put down your phone, close your laptop, turn off your TV and unplug. Unplugging seems impossible with NTI, but this is the perfect time to do it. I recommend going for a drive if you have your license, listening to music and doing something fun and productive. Go meet up with a friend (six feet apart with masks of course), anything relaxing without screens in your face. 

A really great app for getting you off your phone is called Flora. Flora will grow a plant when you put a timer on your phone and the plant will die if you turn on your phone and use it for too long. This is something you can incorporate into your daily life for even if we return to in-person classes as well. 

This is going to be a hard semester to handle, with no break and a busier schedule adding to the already crazy nature of the world, but the best way to approach it is with the potential of a new start. Use these tips to clean and start new, and we will all try to find the best way to navigate the second part of this year together.