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​5 Ways To Manage a Hectic Holiday Schedule

Editor's note: Contributor Matt Diggs is a faculty member at Grantham University who teaches the capstone seminar that all multidisciplinary degree students must complete. He also teaches a variety of social science electives in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Many people travel during the holidays or are feel overwhelmed by time management decisions.

For example, I have 17-month-old twin girls and a wife who needs almost as much attention as the twins! But one of my passions is traveling. This holiday season, we have time to travel. Since I teach at on online university, I enjoy some flexibility in traveling because I can do my job anywhere.

Keeping that in mind, I'd like to share some ideas and tips that have helped me manage traveling over the holidays. If you are enrolled in an online degree program, in the military, working a part- or full-time job, or if stay at home to take care of your family, these tips can provide assistance with crazy holiday schedules:

1. Know your priorities.

Obviously, school is important, but no one at a good school will ever try to tell you that it is more important than family. Be sure you do what needs to be done with your family first.

2. Use all available resources.

I am never afraid to ask my superiors for help on a troubling situation. Some students have told me they didn't know the librarian can help them with research. That's what a librarian is there for! Use the resources available to you, whether it's an online writing center, the librarian, or a friend who has experience in the area you are struggling with.

3. Use chunking to get things done.

A 1,000-word assignment might seem daunting. But five 200-word assignments? Not so bad.

Taking a 1,000-word assignment and dividing it into five 200-word assignments would probably be a more effective way of handling the situation.

I might have 50 assignments to grade on a Tuesday night (Tuesday nights are when the academic week concludes at Grantham). If I view this as five packs of 10 assignments to grade - I may grade one pack in the morning, one in the afternoon, one during my daughters' nap in the late afternoon, one in the evening, one before bed - I'll have my assignments graded in a reasonable fashion.

I use chunking when I'm working on the road. Don't be afraid to use it for your assignments. Also, reward yourself! After you get a chunk of 200 words done on your 1,000-word assignment, treat yourself to getting something else done as a reward for your success.

4. Don't try to take on too much.

I am very guilty of this. Just the other day, I planned an eight-hour driving day from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.; budgeted another two hours when I got into the hotel for grading; set a 9 a.m. wake-up call for breakfast and to finish the drive home, with another three to four hours for school when I got home at midnight.

Unreasonable? You bet! I learned that the hard way as I had to pull over and take a nap on day 2.

What would have been better for me was to perhaps break up the driving into three days so I could meet my obligations as an online professor and as a safe driver.

Sure, you have 16-18 waking hours a day - and you can make them all productive - but be sure you are reasonable with what you can get done. Leave some slack time. As much as you think you can average the speed limit when you're driving, you can't stop construction, car accidents, or the person in front of you at a toll booth deciding to ask five minutes worth of questions.

Leave yourself some time when you are planning out things. Maybe it's pure luck, or Murphy's law, but it seems the more you try to stuff into a day, the more unexpected things come up.

5. Write out a to-do list.

This is my go-to item when times get tough. The process of writing things down and crossing them off creates an organization that may sound simple, but it's important. Crossing each thing off is a motivator! Don’t be afraid to do the little things to help create success.

Hopefully my experiences will help you in budgeting your college workload and holiday schedule (be it travel or otherwise) this year!

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