Regardless of whether you are a high school freshman or a high school senior, school can feel stressful at times, especially right around finals week. For many students, winter break falls right after first-semester finals, making it the perfect time to rest and recuperate. 

It’s important to spend quality time with family and friends, particularly around the holidays, and everyone benefits from a well-deserved break. That said, if you’re wondering how to be productive over winter break, there are lots of ways to spend your time. In this article, we will review 10 ways to know how to stay productive during the holidays.


Work hard to meet your goals before the start of winter break

More than anything, the holidays are a great motivator to meet deadlines. Do your best to prioritize, practice time management, and work hard in the weeks preceding winter break. Chances are your holiday plans will take up a lot of your time over winter break and realistically, you won’t have time to catch up on schoolwork. So don’t put yourself in that situation. Work hard to meet all of your deadlines before the start of the holidays so you can properly enjoy yourself. 

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Take time to rest and recuperate

It’s important not to push yourself too hard and risk experiencing burnout. Lots of ambitious students benefit from winter break simply because they need a reason to rest. Take this time to prioritize your physical and mental well-being. Take a few days to yourself to rest and recover from the fall semester. 


Reflect on your semester and make goals for next semester

If you’re wondering how to make holidays productive, one thing you can do is reflect on your fall semester and make goals for your spring semester. What did you do well this semester? Are you happy with your final grades? What is something that you could work on? Winter break is a great time to engage in self-reflection. After all, there’s a reason why so many people make new year’s resolutions!


Spend time with family and friends

The holidays are a great time to spend time with family and friends. Enjoy your family’s traditions and make plans with friends. There are lots of seasonal events and plenty of ways to keep busy and have fun! You may even want to try something new, such as helping prepare a family meal or volunteering at a local event.


Enjoy your hobbies

Sometimes hobbies and extracurricular activities receive less attention than we would like, especially around finals. Take this time to reprioritize and reform habits. This may include going to the gym, practicing a musical instrument, starting a new art project, or preparing for an upcoming audition. Engaging in a hobby that is important to you can be a great way to know how to be productive on vacation. 



College admissions officers favor students whose applications include volunteer hours. The holidays are a great time to volunteer. Not only will you have more time during winter break, but there will likely be lots of seasonal events that could benefit from having more volunteers. 

Reach out to local hospitals and nursing homes to see if they need any seasonal volunteers. Additionally, local food pantries may need help preparing and serving holiday meals. 


Take on extra work shifts

Another way to know how to stay productive during holidays is to take on additional work shifts. Some students specifically apply for part-time jobs over the holidays. Students who already have part-time jobs sometimes take on more shifts during the holidays. Although internships will not start during the holidays, winter break is a good time to research the best internships for high school students and take note of upcoming deadlines. 


Take time to clean and organize

Some of the most productive things to do during holidays involve cleaning. Staying organized and having a neat room and place to study are key to knowing how to stay focused on schoolwork at home. Consider various tips on staying organized in high school, such as devising an organizational method for your school supplies and coming up with different schedules and routines. High school is an important time to form good habits and winter break is the perfect time to reset and reorganize. 


Study for the SAT

Other productive things to do during winter break involve studying for the SAT and ACT. Research SAT and ACT test dates and sign up for an upcoming exam if you need to take the test. Gather your study materials and design an SAT study plan and schedule. You may also want to research tutoring opportunities near you. Keep in mind that there are plenty of free and readily available SAT study resources, such as the College Board’s free practice exam and SAT question of the day. You may also want to look into using Khan Academy, another great SAT resource.  


Apply for scholarships

For many students, scholarships are a key factor in whether or not they can afford to go to college. Finding enough time to apply for scholarships, however, can feel difficult during the school year. This is why winter break is a great time to focus on scholarship applications. After all, you can never apply to too many!

Key Takeaways and moving forward

Use the holidays to rest, recharge, and recuperate. Spend time with loved ones and engage in activities you enjoy. You might also want to study for the SAT and ACT, apply for scholarships, organize school materials, and volunteer for local organizations. Winter break is a great time to check in with yourself about your goals for next semester. If you feel like you need help reaching your academic goals, contact us to learn more about our services.