As the University’s Winter Break approaches (Penn’s Admissions Office is closed Dec 21- Jan1), I find myself thinking both about the plans I have with my family for the holidays as well as the tasks our office needs to accomplish in the transition to regular decision. Likewise, for high school seniors, spending much needed time with those most important to them while completing regular decision applications will be a balancing act over the next two weeks. For those who have not pressed submit yet, I am passing along the tips that my colleagues lean on to increase productivity. Your hard work on applications and school projects will pay off this spring but please be sure to equally prioritize time spent with family and friends.
Frank Cabrera, Admissions Counselor: “I am a firm believer in checking in with yourself. Recognize your limitations. Listen to your body. You will be more efficient when well rested and feeling positive. Give yourself breaks when necessary and allow yourself to have structured fun time.”
Megan Red Shirt-Shaw, Admissions Counselor: “Think about your work space. I often have to work somewhere quiet and a little bit secluded because I am easily distracted by other people.”
Sandra Mazlagic, Admissions Coordinator: “I like to set the whole environment perfectly. I pick music that I’m really excited to listen to. I have the snack that I’m really excited to eat. Then I set a realistic goal and don’t move on until it’s complete.”
Natalie Herring, Associate Dean: “I clear my mind of whatever might be on it. I keep a notebook and write down all my scattered thoughts including the to-do list of what I’m trying to be productive with that very moment.”
Siobhan O’Neill, On-Campus Programs: “I make lists, that’s the first thing. I will endeavor to mix something pleasurable with chores. If I stick to my lists, it not only gives me a sense of purpose and makes me feel productive but it relieves me from anxiety because I won’t forget the tasks. Even the process of writing everything down is cathartic.”
Alexandra Feinson, Admissions Counselor: “I reward myself after finishing smaller goals. When completing a final task, shutting down background noise is a good idea. Even music might be disruptive when doing final edits.”
I’ll end with my own advice: make sure to sleep. For me, anything more than 6 hours a night is a huge bonus. I also make an effort to include physical activity and breaks in my work day. If I have more than an hour of free time, I work out; if it’s around 10 minutes, I listen to a song or watch a music video.
I encourage you to try out one of our tips, or use them all. Enjoy the time and space you use to put together your story.