How to start studying after holidays: set up you island-goal!

My trip is over and I am back to reality. I really had a good time in my home country; I laughed a lot, I saw good friends, met with my family and my cat! But now I’m back!

The challenge is to start working again concentrated, focused with enthusiasm and not looking back in my holidays. The best advice for getting back to work without been stressed comes from Mark Twain:

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex and overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one”.

So take one step at a time!

Here is what I did in order to get back in the mood of working:

1) Remind myself that my goal is to complete my PhD thesis in November (less than two months away).

2) Check what I have to do for finishing my thesis (e.g. which chapters are left for writing, and which chapters need re-writing, editing, etc).

3) Split every activity (e.g. write a chapter on Methodology) in smaller tasks (e.g. write about data collection, data analysis, etc).

4) Set up a time-plan and ascribe my tasks in working days.




Here is my time-table for finishing my thesis







When I look at my time-table and I see my task-list I become less procrastinated during the day. For example, I cannot be in the mood of:  “Today I feel a little bored… Let’s see the photos of my holidays! I will work tomorrow more hours to catch up”.
I cannot postpone something for the next day, because I already have planned to do something else next day.

Note: I don’t perceive this time-plan as pressuring or a strict time-table. For me it works like a reminder, helping me to avoid procrastination after holidays. When you are on a holiday your mind is relaxing and you are not thinking about work. When you return from holidays usually we need some days to adjust in the working/studying situation. I find the previous 4 steps really helpful for getting back in my working mood.

A friend commented at me that this time-table conceals a trap, because when you’ll have to re-plan your time-table you might feel disappointed because you didn’t accomplish your time-table.

I do not view this time-table as stressing by thinking “oh my God! I have so much to do! Where to start?” And I know that I’ll have to re-plan my time-table.
I don’t see the above 4 steps as a weight that press me. I view it as a reminder that helps me to feel motivated to work again!



 I see my final goal  as an island in which I want to go. 

Every task I accomplish is bringing me closer to this island…


5) When I finished my time-table, I planned my weekly plan. I followed again the rule “break your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks”.

For example, I have to finish my chapter on the concept of Identity. So I break the activity of writing the chapter in tasks:
– Write how identity is conceptualized in organizational studies
– Write how I view identity
– Write how I will use identity for exploring diversity
– and so on….

6) Then I break each task in smaller tasks.
For example, in the section in which I discuss how identity is conceptualized in organizational studies, I map the usual conceptualizations of identity by categorizing them in broad distinctions. So the section “how identity is conceptualized” entails these smaller tasks:
– Essentialistic vs. non-essentialistic approaches on identity
– Functional, Hermeneutic, and Critical approaches on identity

The section “how I view identity” entails these small tasks:
– Write about social constructed nature of identity
– Write about dynamic, context-depended, relational of identity
– Write about multiple nature of identity
– Write about discursive nature of identity

7) I ascribed these tasks in working days.
In the past I was not realistic in my estimations and I tended to ascribe more tasks than I could realistically execute during a day. As I have already discussed in another post, in time I learn how to make more realistic plans.
Of course you may have different goals than mine; e.g. to finish your master thesis, a project, an assignment, a university semester. What is important is not the nature of your goal, but to engage in your working mood with energy, motivation and without procrastination.

My suggestions for start working after holidays are:

1) Write down your goal for this semester/ year
2) Write down which are your sub-goals for accomplishing your goal
3) Break down each sub-goal in tasks.
4) Break down each task in smaller tasks that you can execute in a working day.
5) Print your time table and keep it a salient spot in your working office. When you feel boring and flirting with procrastination, look your time-table and remind yourself your “island-goal”.

Yes, holidays are important and necessary! It doesn’t matter how many days a holiday last, but how joy and relax you had during your holidays. Most of us have to return in reality, our work and studies and so we are facing the challenge of letting go our nice holiday’s memories and engage in work.
So don’t let the enticement of procrastination to drawn you down. Be decisive and write down your island-goal for this semester or year! Plan how you’ll get there and follow your plan!

Don’t think your goal as something huge that looks far away and difficult to reach. Rome wasn’t built in a day” (John Heywood)

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex and overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one”. (Mark Twain)

So what you are waiting for? Let’s get started!

Grab a paper and a pen and write down your goal and your plan for accomplishing this goal!

This is my personal experience of how I start working after holidays!

Do you have some tips or strategies for working after holidays?

What helps you to be creative and work with energy after the end of your holidays?


1 Comment

Filed under Managing time, Writing

One response to “How to start studying after holidays: set up you island-goal!

  1. Pingback: How to start working after holidays (part 2) | The PhD…"war"

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