Why You Need to Get Time Away during the Holidays

As the year comes to a close, you may have any number of loose ends.1 Some of them you’ll need or want to tie up in the coming days. Others you might put off for a bit.

But there’s more to life than your current work demands, your next project, or that last assignment that needs attention before the semester fully ends.

There’s More to Your Craft than Academic Work

Honing your craft as a biblical scholar goes beyond effectiveness in these domains. It also means getting better at integrating other life domains that are just as or more important.

You’re a whole person with a multifaceted life—and those multiple facets are part of what make life rich. So, a core skill you need to hone is how you live as an academic in order to integrate the domains of your life that stretch beyond the academy.

That’s easy to overlook, but it’s hugely significant in the long term. It’s what makes the difference between a life that only has academic results and one that’s rich and full in every domain across the spectrum.

But in academic life, it’s all too easy to continue pressing ahead and leaning forward into what’s coming next. And for that reason, unplugging from that work to invest yourself fully elsewhere takes skill too.

Being away is a part of academic life. And it’s a part that’s worth doing well.

Setting Aside Academic Work Requires Skill Too

You might find other ways of approaching and enjoying time away too, but there are 8 steps that will give you a great start. To summarize, these are to

  1. Recognize there’s more to life than work.
  2. Start planning early. But if you find yourself a bit behind on your end of the year plans, just begin from you are.
  3. Clarify how long you’ll be away and what you’ll be away from. As you do so, especially involve your spouse in this discussion and, as appropriate, your kids.
  4. Identify stakeholders who may need something from you while you’re away.
  5. Communicate with any stakeholders who might need something from you while you’re away, and address their needs ahead of time. Where this might not be feasible, try to negotiate a timeline for completing that request long enough after you’re back so that you don’t have to sacrifice your time away.
  6. Plan for your time away. You probably shouldn’t try to time block Thanksgiving day or Christmas morning. But you don’t want to unplug without any plans so suddenly that it takes time away that you should be enjoying just to get your head out of “productive biblical scholar mode.”
  7. Set an email autoresponder.
  8. Keep your commitment to being away. Don’t be overly ready to “just check” or “only do a little of.” It can wait. And if something comes up that genuinely can’t, negotiate with those it will affect when and how you’ll address that unexpected, pressing concern.

And if you want to dig deeper into these suggestions, check out my much fuller discussion of them elsewhere.

Conclusion

Just like other parts of the craft of biblical scholarship, your ability to unplug from academics and focus on other life domains is also something you can hone over time.

Do it a few times with intention, and you’ll notice yourself gradually getting better at being not just whatever your school or work demands require, but also someone who lives a full life as a whole person.


  1. Header image provided by Jude Beck.