01/04/2012 03:48 pm ET Updated Mar 05, 2012

8 Tips for Having a Productive Holiday Break

By Alicia Taubert
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Put down that sugar cookie.  I know, I know, it feels like Christmas break just started, but if you're anything like me, by the time you've watched your fifth episode of Frasier on Netflix, you realize you're wasting your precious free time.  In pursuit of productivity over the holidays, I propose a few suggestions to feel like you didn't just waste those days between semesters.

1. Take a day off.  I know this really is contradictory to my previous statement, but rest is a huge component to productivity.  Don't plan anything.  Just relax, you worked hard on those finals.

2. Read.  Finish off all those books you started in the beginning of the semester and had to put on hold once finals hit.  I am currently finishing two novels that have shamelessly sat on my shelf for the past month.  In addition, this will also be a good time to start another book.  I'd suggest something fiction during a vacation.

3. Clean out your closets.  I found myself up to my elbows in scarves I no longer wear, as well as boots and sweaters that I haven't worn yet this season.  If you're coming from college living, clean out something, even if it's your car.

4. Carve out undisturbed family time.  I hope to bake, go shopping, and have a Christmas movie marathon with the family (sorry men, your bonding rituals baffle me).  Start by turning off your phone for a while too.  Just do it, and your mom will be glad you did.  You could get that Red Rider BB Gun you always wanted.

5. Journal your goals for the next year.  It is said those that write down their goals and look at them every morning are more likely to accomplish them.  Start memorizing a new verse every week, or go to bed at a decent hour.  Also, don't be afraid to be specific.  The more detailed you are, the better vision and likelihood you have of accomplishing them, even if it is just eating more vegetables.

6. Try a new workout.  I've been thinking of trying yoga in my free time.  I'll leave the jogging to the highly motivated.

7. Connect with old friends.  Write those Christmas/New Year's greetings or take a day trip to visit cousins a few hours away.

8. Make a few extra dollars.  After all the resting, goal setting, winter cleaning, and yoga stretching, now would be an okay time to pick up extra shifts in order to make a few extra dollars.

I also suggest writing down what you hope to accomplish in the two to four weeks you have before the next semester.  This isn't to say that you can't enjoy a marathon of your favorite TV show, but being productive will make those hours of watching The Wonder Years and eating sugar cookies more rewarding.