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How to Navigate the End-of-Semester-Hustle-and-Bustle When All You Really Want to Do is Be At Home On Your Parent’s Couch With Your Dog and A Cup of Piping Peppermint Hot Cocoa

November has begun, which means it’s officially not ultra-annoying to start putting out Christmas lights, turn up the X-mas tunes, or order a shot of peppermint in your cup of hot cocoa. But with these seasonal changes also come yearnings for home (or more specifically) the togetherness of the holidays and the feeling of relief when you realize there are no due dates for you to make.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to hit pause on the tidings of cheer, or at least slow this Hallmark Christmas Special down to half speed, because you are not in fact sitting on your couch in your parent’s house, sipping hot cocoa with your 15-year-old Shih Tzu-Pomeranian, Fluffy.

Open your eyes: it’s still early November and the end of semester rush of final projects and papers is coming at you fast.

So how do you set aside these feelings of dread and keep yourself from dreaming of holiday cheer when really what you should be doing is reading that scholarly article on the Western positioning of the neoliberal girl subject that your Women’s Studies professor assigned?

Read on to learn the ways in which I hack the happy-holidays-loving couch potato within and kick it into high gear to make it to December 15–the day when the chillin’ can actually begin.

  “Work Smarter…NOT Harder”

If you find yourself with too many things to do and not enough hours in the day, take this mantra to heart.


A wise 8th grade classmate once spoke this truth to me as he watched me diligently and thoroughly respond to a set of questions our junior high history teacher had assigned. On my paper was at least half a page of writing per question, on his…two sentences each.

Nick must have been on to something because when we got our papers back, we both got the same grade: 100%.

It was at this moment that I learned (although it took me much longer to actually adopt) that some assignments simply aren’t worth the extra effort. That is to say, some assignments and quizzes are worth less points because–believe it or not–they aren’t actually as important as the heavier weighted assignments. I know…wild, right?

Don’t get me wrong–I’m not advocating that you half-ass all your remaining assignments. I’m asking you–if you suffer from the perfectionist scholarly mindset which afflicts me–to gauge the value of your smaller assignments and use the extra time you might want to devote to exceeding the word count on that 200 word minimum discussion board post to a more appropriately time-consuming task (like researching for your end-of-semester final paper).

Reward yourself!

Everyone gets a little down after going to four classes in one day only to get home and start the three assignments due that night by 11:59 without having more than a warmed English muffin for dinner. (I may or may not be speaking from experience…)

Instead of allowing yourself to wash, rinse, and repeat this cycle, the next time you finish a particularly rough assignment go get a holiday cup of joe, take a relaxing bath, watch an episode of your favorite TV show. Do something to remind yourself that you are doing a great job and that you are human and sometimes need a little brain break and a well-balanced meal.

FaceTime Your Family

Whenever I need a little pick-me-up or reminder of what is waiting for me at home when I return in a few short weeks, I give my fam a ring on the ol’ smartphone. It can be a great stress reliever to decompress and update your family on what you’ve been up to. Sometimes I even use that time to organize my thoughts and brainstorm how I’ll best use my future time to get all I need to do done.

It also doesn’t hurt to ask your parents to turn the phone camera to the ground so you can say a quick hello to that canine of yours. They might not fully comprehend the hello you’re trying to give them, but it sure does bring a smile to my face to see a furry snout enlarge on my phone screen before fully enveloping the camera lens.

Have a dance party all your own!

I find when I’m struggling to stay focused on the reading at hand sometimes all I need is a quick boogie around my room to any number of songs on my “ROCKIN’ XMAS” Spotify playlist to refocus my energy. 


I’ve learned since taking dance classes each semester that I enjoy artistic movement as a creative outlet. Each semester I sign up for at least one 2-credit movement course to keep my body movin’ and groovin’ a couple of hours a week. So far I have taken courses in Ballet, Modern Dance, and Musical Theatre Tap. I’ll say this much: not only are dance classes a fun way to start my Tuesday/Thursdays, but I’m also having an easier time staying on task during my homework binges.

I hope some of these tips will refuel your willpower enough to make it to Winter Break. Just remember: I’m right here with ya’, powering through until I can pack my bags for some much needed time at home with the fam and the dog.

Sofia Murillo is a senior at Arizona State University pursuing majors in Women & Gender Studies and Political Science and a minor in French. Despite her failure to craft entirely cohesive fashion ensembles, she dresses how she lives: with eclectic confidence.
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