Summer is just around the corner. If you make the effort to invest in your summer, you’ll reap rewards for years to come. Here are some productive things to do over the summer and ‘make hay while the sun shines.’
From the beginning stages of preparing your ideas of what you want (and don’t want!) to happen this summer to figuring out the best way to end the season, it’s all part of powerful goal-setting and taking action. Enjoy!
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Determine Your Priorities
Hard fact: To-do lists will always be longer than the hours in a single day, especially for overwhelmed overthinkers. It often simply takes us longer to get regular things done, so we have to be extra-intentional with our planning and task lists.
Before summer is in full swing, look at what’s on your plate, decide what’s going to get the lion’s share of your time and energy, and leave the rest for another time. You simply cannot do all.the.things. — not even all of the suggestions written in this blog post. Keep that in mind.
If you’re going to line up productive things to do in the summer, you’re going to have to find ways of doing them justice.
For example, if you’re going to continue your education over the summer, you might consider taking most of the summer off work or other activities. You might even consider moving that weekly date night with your partner.
If you have children, you’re going to be doing more parenting by default without any school time happening. Evaluate what activities and experience-building will make this a summer to remember, but won’t suck you or your family’s energy well dry.
Rethink Your Work Hours
You might not get a summer vacation from your job, but employers are becoming more work-life conscious, especially now that many people are working remotely.
You can freshen up your routine and streamline your productivity by hashing out a work schedule that allows room for self-care time and/or family time.
As long as you demonstrate that your commitment to your work isn’t going to suffer, many employers don’t have an issue with being flexible. Then you can address the productive things to do in the summer that you’ve settled on.
And once you know what your summer work schedule looks like, share it with everyone so that all are on board. Defend the boundaries of your schedule gracefully yet fiercely. This can be REALLY difficult, so practice how you will do that.
You can tell those that interrupt you, “I can’t have lunch with you right now, but I’ll be able to in about three hours/thirty minutes/whatever the case may be.” Write it down, practice saying it out loud in the mirror, whatever it takes to give you the confidence to keep those boundaries.
Learn Mind Mapping
Ever done mind mapping? If you’ve never heard of it before, don’t worry. It’s not as outlandish as it sounds.
You’ve been learning with half of your brain. Reading text top to bottom, left to right is processed by the left hemisphere of the brain. That’s how textbooks read and that’s how people take notes. No wonder people forget what they learn, if they’re processing information at only 50%.
Mind mapping brings your right hemisphere into play by having you use colors and shapes, besides words.
The end result is a method of taking notes and brainstorming that generates ideas faster and helps you retain information longer. This article is an excellent introduction to mind mapping. Have your colored pens and markers ready!
You’ll find that it lends itself very well to making to-do lists and planning. Some people replace their entire planners with a notebook of mind maps. It’s also a fantastic creative way to journal.
It works because our natural thinking process is radial, not linear. Traditional notes and books have a linear flow of information. Mind maps are radial, because they are literally a map of your own thought process. Give it a try.
Learn a (Fun) Time Management Technique
The minutes and seconds that slip through the cracks in a day are astonishing. Most of us could easily recoup a couple of hours if we really watched how we spend our time.
How often does it happen that when you’re truly on task, you become mentally tired and you can feel your focus breaking down?
This is where a time-management technique helps.
Two popular ones are The Pomodoro Technique and Timeboxing.
The Pomodoro Technique
- Find a kitchen timer.
- Set the timer for 25 minutes.
- Spend that 25 minutes 100% focused on the task at hand.
- If something interrupts you, make a note on a piece of paper and keep working.
- If you get distracted, start the 25 minutes over again.
- If the timer goes off without you getting distracted, score yourself a ‘pomodoro’ on a piece of paper and set the timer for a 5-minute break.
- When the break is over, set the timer for another 25 minutes.
- Repeat until the task is done.
You’ll find yourself getting more done in shorter spaces of time.
You’ll also find that after a while, you can anticipate how many ‘pomodoros’ a task will require. This might aid in mapping out what you can actually get done in a day.
Experiment with different lengths of pomodoros and breaks. Once you know what works for you, stick to it.
Timeboxing is very similar to the pomodoro technique in that it follows a pattern of allocating time to a task. But the breaks are optional. You literally ‘box’ out how much time you can give to a series of tasks, set a timer, and when the timer goes off, you move on to the next task on the list.
The boxed-off time might be a few minutes, it might be an hour. A time-boxed schedule might look like this:
- Wash Dishes – 30 minutes
- Clean Upstairs Bathroom – 20 minutes
- Write new blog post – 2 hours
Timeboxing might be better suited to people that like working without interruption. The Pomodoro Technique helps people whose minds are like a muscle: they wear out if they’re clenched too long.
Write That Book
Do you have a book or a novel inside of you? It’s easy to keep putting if off. Where are you going to find the time to write a 50,000 word manuscript?
Well, the math is actually pretty simple. 😉
Figure out how many words you can write in 15-30 minutes. Then set a timer to write as many times as you can spare throughout the day. Before long, you’ll have a finished draft to edit.
Suppose you can write 300-400 words in 15 minutes. You decide that you can fit three writing sessions into your day for a total of about 1200 words.
The first draft of your 50k book will be written in about 42 days. Just a little over a month.
Nobody has the time to write a 50k book. But everyone has 15 minutes they can use to hammer out a few hundred words.
From experience, I know the math for book-writing doesn’t always work that easily. However, this is where you can pursue your passion and blast through the mental barriers you’ve built up. Consistency WILL get you to that finish line.
Become A Freelancer
If there’s anything we’ve learned during the pandemic, it’s that you can hold a job through your computer. This might be a great time to hop onto platforms like Upwork or Fiverr and set up camp.
If you can write nonfiction articles, you’ll have work. If you can research topics you aren’t familiar with and write based on that research, you’ll definitely have work.
There are also things you can get paid to do online that don’t even require a lot of writing.
Have an eye for design? Help people with the visual side of their online blogs and businesses — designing a cohesive website look, creating Pinterest images, and a lot more that you’ve probably never imagined you could get paid for.
Build an Action Plan to Map The Way to Your Goals
Dreaming about doing great things this summer? What’s the checklist to make them happen?
You might have something in your head like, ‘I want to learn a new language.’
What would be the first actionable step towards that goal? Finding the books or courses you’re going to use.
And the next step? Getting the notebook you’re going to use.
And the next step? Scheduling when and how long you’re going to study.
And the next step? And the next?
When you run out of actionable steps, you’ve got your road map to learning a new language. The goal went from being this abstract pie-in-the-someday-sky to being reachable via ABC-123.
And remember, you don’t always need to have every little step mapped out. I know most of us spend so much time planning that we end up feeling like we can never get through all of those steps, and we don’t even begin the journey.
So maybe just know the end goal, and then really map out the first section. Don’t get bogged down by overthinking what comes later… you really WILL figure it out more easily as you gain knowledge from doing the first steps.
Looking for goal ideas that don’t feel so… huge? Check out my list of 102 summer goals — they’re smaller, easier, and perfect for overthinkers.
What To Do on the Last Days of Summer
Of course you’ll want to take a break and look back over the previous weeks. Maybe schedule a retreat or a special spa weekend. But you’ll also want to figure out how to continue your exciting new routine of setting goals and reaching them.
By the time you’ve applied all the above and you’ve found yourself learning better and faster, squeezing productivity out of your time without trying quite so hard, and reaching your goals, you’re not going to want to quit.
Make room at the end of summer to do what you did at the beginning: brainstorm some productive things to do in the fall… and then map out how you’re going to make great things happen for the next few months.
More About Productivity and Intentional Living
My book ‘The One Focus Method’ contains expanded versions of my most inspirational posts on goal setting and achieving. It also helps you work on building the motivation to follow through on completing projects in short periods of time.
Productivity planners can kick-start your efforts to set goals and get things done.
Use a beautiful journal to reflect on your intentional living goals and do some future planning.
I’m a very visual person, which means I absolutely love motivational wall art for inspiration to keep me focused and productive. It really does work!
Final Thoughts on Summer Productivity
After reading about all these productive things to do over the summer, maybe you’re thinking ‘Forget that. I just want to kick back and relax for the entire summer.’
You know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that choice if it’s an actual decision. We all need time to relax and refresh. Just don’t let ‘being lazy’ turn into your default summer state of being only because you never make the time to figure out something else.
Even if you do decide to push yourself to work on as many productive things as you can handle, don’t forget to schedule in some downtime! Nobody can stay 100% focused 100% of the time… especially during the summer!
I really hope that some of these ideas have inspired you to try something new or come up with your own list of productive things you’ve been ‘meaning to do’ for far too long. It’s time to intentionally Build Your Best Life and grow you into the best version of yourself.
You’ve got this!
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