How to Balance School, Family and Football over Thanksgiving Break

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Thanksgiving is many people’s favorite holiday, and for good reason. You get to be with your family, stuff yourself on delicious food and chill out on the couch all day watching NFL games. But for college students, Thanksgiving is synonymous with something else–homework, and lots of it. Balancing the joys of the holiday with the doldrums of schoolwork can be difficult, but it’s possible.

Do Work on the Way Home

If you’re a passenger on the journey back to the realm of mom’s cooking and watching football with dad, don’t waste your time. Sure, it’d be nice to take a nap or play Trivia Crack for a couple hours, but that’s hardly an effective use of your time. Bring your charged laptop and any books you need to get some work done. For a research paper, download PDFs of your research or copy and paste the articles into Word documents so you can access the content offline. If you have to write fiction or poetry, take inspiration from the open road a la the intro to every indie teen movie ever made. PowerPoint presentation? You’ll have extra time to pick out just the right background and just the right font. If you’re taking literature courses and driving home Han-style, there’s still a chance you can get work done; invest in an audiobook and listen during the drive. Starting that 700-page Dickens novel won’t be so scary when you’re forced to listen to it for hours on end in the car (But it will still be boring, very boring).

Create a Schedule

You’ll have five whole days with no class (maybe more if you go home early). Break is going to seem like an eternity after months of projects, papers and presentations taking up your life, but it’s really not. Five days, ya’ll. That’s it. Create a strict schedule for those five short days and stick to it. No, “I’ll just do everything after everyone goes to bed” is not a schedule. You don’t want to be working on two research papers, a short story, a presentation and an online exam at 2 a.m. every morning. Remember Future Ted’s advice: “Nothing good ever happens after 2 a.m.”

Prevent Schoolwork from Consuming You

These five days are called Thanksgiving Break for a reason. Despite the inevitable workload, you should still be taking a break from school to spend time with your family. Prepare dishes with grandma, watch the games with your uncle and set up the Christmas tree with your parents. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time for family, friends and football, not Black Friday shopping that starts at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving evening. Thanks for that, every retailer ever.

Do Your Shopping Online

Speaking of Black Friday shopping, in 2015,  it’s now easier than ever to save money shopping without getting lost in the villainous Black Friday crowds. Seriously, people can die during that shit. Nowadays, you’re silly if you leave home to shop, trying to get the best Black Friday deals. Most retailers have the same deals on their websites, usually with free shipping or free in-store pickup. Better yet, just wait until Cyber Monday when many of the same deals will be available across the interwebz. By shopping online, you’ll be at home where your family, football and, of course, your schoolwork awaits. Lucky you.

Create a Fallout Shelter

After you feast with the fam in front of football, create your fallout shelter for the nuclear-homework apocalypse. By this point, there are only a few days of break left. If you’ve been keeping to your schedule, you shouldn’t be too stressed out as you’ve already accomplished some work. If not, then you might be panicking during that second round of pumpkin pie, realizing you still have way too much work to do. That’s OK, but it’s time to bunker down for real. Head to your shelter and take out any distractions, including your cell phone, video game consoles and your TV…if you really have to. Only keep the essentials–your textbooks, novels for class and your laptop. Consider disabling your home’s Wi-Fi if you really have no self-control because Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube and every other website you have bookmarked will distract you from your eight-page paper on “Crime and Punishment” (Because your prof is a sick SOB with an unhealthy attachment to irony).

Understand You Won’t Get Everything Done

You’re crazy if you think you can get all of your work done by the end of break while also enjoying family time. Five days isn’t enough to finish it all, so make sure you understand that you won’t accomplish everything you set out to by the time break is over. And that’s fine. Unless your professors are Sith Lords, chances are you’ll have time that first post-break week to finish all of your assignments. Or, just use all the energy from your leftovers-fueled carbo-rush, and instead of binging on Netflix, binge on your schoolwork that last Sunday. Whichever floats your gravy-filled boat.

Austin is in his final year at the University of Florida studying English. He enjoys binging on Shark Tank, winning the Mortal Kombat, and occasionally stepping in for Batman when necessary.

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