It’s easy to let your dissertation writing routine fall apart during the holidays. You’ve made it this far, after all. Isn’t it time to let go of the reins for a while and fully enjoy the festivities?

The shorter days and colder temperatures foster this mindset. Important projects like finishing your dissertation can get a “wait-til-next-year” pass and then start to gather dust on the proverbial mental shelf.

The problem with this kind of seasonal delay? Returning to your thesis in the new year can become even more of a dilemma, as you attempt to reacquaint yourself with your own work and have to get back into dissertation mode all over again. Instead, try the following ideas to keep your productivity fires burning during the holidays ahead.

Be intentional in planning your holiday activities (as much as possible!)

No one wants to pass on the good cheer, particularly after a challenging year. That’s unrealistic and, well…just plain unfair. But since the holidays extend over several weeks, how will you shape that time frame? When you create a holiday schedule, even a loose one, you’re less likely to let your project fall into that dreaded dissertation abyss.

Look at your calendar. What does your holiday look like? When does it start and end? Do you want an entire week off? Can you manage some work early each morning – even an hour or two – before the day’s festivities begin? It’s amazing how momentum can be maintained on your dissertation with just a little bit of regular work on a daily basis. And movement forward, even minimal, will keep your nasty procrastination ogre at bay.

Gift yourself mental and physical health

It’s tempting to slip into excess during the holidays. While some indulgence is part of the holiday season, we end up paying a price for prolonged overeating and over drinking (which can negatively affect cognition and memory).

Make time every day to exercise, hydrate and clear your mind via journaling (holiday prompts in link), meditation and other forms of personal rejuvenation. Remind yourself: your brain is an organ and needs to be nourished and maintained.

Befriend your dissertation daily

Maintain “thesis connectivity” by touching on it daily. If you can’t sit down and write content, go “dissertation-lite” by reviewing notes, reading relevant articles or focusing on the mechanics of editing (tedious but necessary).

The holiday goal: stay connected with your work so in a few weeks, it’s more easily accessible to you and less like a third cousin whose name you can’t quite recall.

Review your end of year accomplishments and plan for 2023

Time some time to look back on 2022 and reflect on the work you’ve accomplished. Ideally, journal about this in handwritten form: write about your wins, challenges and learnings. Be descriptive and include the interesting details; don’t hold back!

Then, list your goals for this year and describe how these will be achieved. On top of the list will be completing your dissertation and graduating in 2023. “Dr.” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Rather than using the word “resolution” simply describe the goals you want accomplish. (Resolutions are notoriously hard to keep after all.)

Finishing your dissertation is a worthy and do-able goal that you can accomplish this year. For many of us, attaining a graduate degree is both a personal and professional goal that has a powerful impact going forward. The key is to recognize the potential obstacles, take steps to break the project into manageable chunks, reach out for support and keep moving forward. Here’s to your success and graduation in 2023!