Winter break is right around the corner…you can already feel it!

Everyone’s looking forward to spending some time relaxing and enjoying holidays. You don’t want to get too complacent, though. Otherwise you risk losing momentum and starting the new semester off on the wrong foot.

Not to worry…here’s a list of easy steps to take that will help make the most of your time this holiday season.

#1. Recap Your Semester

The break between Fall and Spring semesters lines up with the start of the new calendar year…which makes it a perfect time for some resolutions!

An extended break offers a good opportunity to step back and reflect on your performance. Reflect on your academics, as well as your social life, health, and overall happiness. Ask yourself whether you’re meeting the goals you have for yourself; if not, what can you do to make your next semester better? Are there are any bad habits you’d like to purge? Now’s the perfect time.

#2. Clean Up

Have you ever heard the expression “clean room, clear mind”? It means if you have a clean, less-cluttered living space, you can have a much more relaxed mental state. It’s not just an empty saying, either; research shows a clear link between clutter and stress.

Winter break is a great opportunity to clear out a lot of the junk that tends to pile up in our rooms. After all, no one says that cleaning has to wait until Spring.

#3. Make Plans

We’re talking short- and long-term plans here. By all means, make plans to get out of the house in the next couple of weeks to see friends and do something fun. But also make plans for the rest of the school year…and beyond.

If you’re not already using a planner (or Google Calendar), now’s the time to get on board. You can plan out important dates and deadlines—everything from scholarship applications to final exams—months in advance, then set reminders so you stay on-top of what you need to do.

#4. Volunteer or Get a Short-Term Internship

Ever heard of skills-based volunteering? If you’ve already picked out a field of study you intend to enter after graduation, this could be a great way to do something meaningful while also gaining new skills and experience you can use later.

Taking a short-term internship during the break is another way to build your resume and gain skills, experience, and connections. If you manage to land one of these opportunities, it could be invaluable later in life.

#5. Take an Accelerated Course

True; you can’t cram an entire semester into two or three weeks. What you can do is see if a local college or university is offering any accelerated courses that are open to you. These classes are meant to give you a basic rundown on a new knowledge base or skillset. You won’t get into as much detail as during a regular class, but after the course ends, you should have a working knowledge of whatever topic you choose.

#6. Build Your Portfolio

Do you aspire to be a professional artist? Well then, you’re going to need a portfolio of your work. This is a constantly-evolving collection sampling your best and most representative work. The idea is to both demonstrate your ability, as well as showcase how you’ve evolved as an artist.

Winter break is a perfect opportunity to start building-out your portfolio. Several years from now, your portfolio will probably be completely different. But for now, pick out your best material and get it started.

#7. Network

It’s never too early to start building connections. You’re going to want to have someone around who can give you some pointers and show you the ropes in a professional setting. By networking and building connections, you can find people willing to help you out. Who knows? You may even find someone willing to serve as a mentor.

You’re looking for more experienced people to pick their brain. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore people your own age. Start finding and building relationships with people who share your interests and are going into the same field. Building these ties now can make a world of difference in a few years.

#8. Plan for Next Year

If it’s Winter Break, that means the new year is right around the corner! So, why not start the year off right by putting together a plan to make it a successful one?

We’re not talking about making a couple of vague resolutions here. Check out this method we laid out a few months ago for help getting yourself organized. It could change your life!