It's easy to get sucked into the "busy" trap, stuck in a constant state of catching up. If you have a couple of days off during the holiday break, it's a good time to hit the reset button, get around to tasks you've neglected, and start the New Year on the right foot.
Tackle Some Home Maintenance Projects
Now is a good time to get a head start on cleaning and de-crapify your home. Start with a closet decluttering session. Identify your unwanted junk and sell, donate, or toss it. Then start cleaning, one room at a time.
While you're at it, might as well tackle a little preventive maintenance, too, and keep your home from falling apart. A few common home repairs you can avoid with a little maintenance.
It's not the most thrilling way to spend your time off, but when else will you have time for these projects? Plus, you can clean and binge-watch Gilmore Girls simultaneously.
Finally Start That Book You've Wanted to Write
You probably won't finish your entire manuscript over the holiday break, but it's a good time to at least get started. Put a few words on the page, then come up with a writing schedule you can stick with for the rest of the year. Start the "don't break the chain" system and steal this calendar to help you visualise the process.
While you're at it, you can research what it takes to produce a book from start-to-finish, including the self-publishing process. Writer's Digest is a useful resource for questions you might have about the process.
Similarly, if you've been thinking about launching a blog, you can use your downtime to do that, too. Research and set up the technical details: pick a platform, register your domain, and sign up for hosting. then come up with a regular writing schedule to stick with your goal.
Reach Inbox Zero
For some people, Inbox Zero isn't just a fantasy. It's possible to get through your massive amount of emails, it's just takes some time and planning. The problem is, during regular business hours, for every email you delete, two more pop up in your inbox. The holidays are the perfect time to attempt Inbox Zero because, chances are, you have fewer emails coming through.
First, you can use a service like Mailstrom or Unroll.Me to clean up your subscriptions and remove yourself from unwanted mailing lists. Then, get your inbox organised. Use a tool like Sortd or switch to Inbox by Gmail to help automatically sort your emails according to category, like tasks, social, promotions, and so on. From there, come up with a system for maintaining this structure. If you really think Inbox Zero is a pipe dream, though, you can at least use your time off to come up with a system for organising and managing your email flow so that it works better for you.
Get Your Finances in Order
Getting started with personal finance can be intimidating, particularly when your finances need a complete overhaul. You might not even know where to start. You don't have to learn everything about money overnight, but if you have some down time, you can squeeze in a few lessons in Money 101.
We've also created our own useful guides to help you learn personal finance basics, such as:
• No Matter What, Building Wealth Always Comes Down To These Four Pillars
• 5 Simple Budgeting Strategies That Can Bring Real Results
• The Most Common Budgeting Mistakes (And How To Fix Them)
• How To Escape The Bad Money Habits You Picked Up From Your Parents
Again, you won't learn it all at once, but while you have some free time, you might as well take that crucial first step toward better money habits.
Cross an Item Off Your Reading List
If you're anything like me, you have a long list of books you've been meaning to get around to reading, you just never have the time to dig into them. Take out your reading list and pick a title.
Block out some time to get it done, pick a cosy area, and dig in. Alternatively, you could pick an audiobook and get your "reading" done while you're tackling chores or other activities that don't require much cognitive work.
If you don't have a long reading list, and you're just looking for a good book to start with, check out these novels that should be required reading for everyone.
Look for a Better Job
If you've been complaining about your job for a while now, why not use your time off to look for a better one? Aside from the possibility of finding something better, you may also dread going back to work a little less, too, knowing you've submitted some resumes and officially kickstarted your job search.
If you don't have a resume, you can use a tool like Sumry or recently-mentioned Resume Beacon to help you create one. Then, review job boards specific to your field. LanceList is a great tool for freelancers, and MediaBistro is great for anyone in the writing, journalism, or media industry. If you're looking for a new job in the healthcare or medical field, try HealtheCareers.
Even if you're not actively looking for a new job, it can still be useful to search for one. It helps you stay up to date on the in-demand skills for your position. Plus, you never know what you'll find.
Do Absolutely Nothing and Love It
Finally, there's a case to be made for thoroughly enjoying your time off by not doing a damn thing. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do for your productivity. You know that regular breaks are important when you're focused on a task. You have to get up and shift your mind a little bit so you can come back to the task with a fresh perspective, reenergized. For that same reason, it's important to take long breaks from your day-to-day routine. It's crucial to self-care, and self-care is an important part of the process because:
Not everyone has a job that lets them take extra time off during the holidays. If you do, you might as well use that time productively, even if that means not doing anything at all.