What’s Your Summer Plan?

The end of May has arrived, which for me has always signified the unofficial beginning of summer. There’s an entirely different mindset that comes with June: I feel an eager anticipation (I happen to have a June birthday, which helps) and also a feeling of liberation and release. The academic and work obligations of the spring have ended and it’s time to change gears.

Of course, the problem with that mentality is that it can quickly lead to extreme laziness and a lack of productivity and gumption as the months wear on. The structure and deadlines of the academic year keep me focused and producing creative work; without that structure, it’s very easy to let the whole summer slip by without any real writing getting done. This summer I’m determined not to let that happen. But that begs the question: how do we keep our summers as busy as we want them to be?

Pick Clear Goals

The first step toward making the most of your summer is being very clear about what you want to accomplish. If you have only a vague idea (“gee, it would be great if I could write a lot”), you’ll probably end up disappointed by whatever you end up doing. Use goals to give your days direction. So this week and the next are a great time to sit down and make a list of what you want to get done. Some of my writing goals for this summer are to write at least two stories, rewrite one draft, and edit to completion a few more. It’s daunting when I say it out loud, but it can be done, and so can your self-appointed tasks.

After the jump: what to do to accomplish your goals.

Make a Plan

Now that you know what you want to do, you can figure out how it will get done. One of my reading goals is to finish at least three large novels I’ve been meaning to delve into. It won’t happen if I pick up the book on August 20th. So making a plan might involve planning to read a chapter a day. For my writing goals, I’m planning to set aside an hour or two a day during which I’ll write uninterrupted. It’s unrealistic to say that I’ll manage to do this every single day, but I’d be happy if I could do it most days.

Put it into action.

List-making and goal-setting are great as far as they go, but they aren’t the actions themselves. How will you find the gumption to actually sit down and accomplish what you plan to? It could be as simple as waking up early every day so that you feel you have plenty of time in the day to do what you want. It could be exercising more to feel energized. It could be not rewarding yourself until you’ve completed a day’s work. It’s up to you to be disciplined; just remember that slow and steady wins the race, and it will be the tortoises who feel the most satisfied at the end of the summer.

One comment

  1. mary brady says:

    Thanks, Blair. I used to run my own business (I’m a CPA & did tax work) ’til two neck fusions disabled me 100% & forced me into early retirement.

    When I worked, I was a great one for to-do lists & I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I crossed off tasks. Since I “got retired,” I’ve felt adrift–there are a number of things I’d like to do (write, paint, work out the Schrodinger equation with ease, etc.) but I go about accomplishing these activities in a most desultory fashion.

    So, I think I’ll go back to my “to-do” lists on a daily basis.
    Like many people, I often put down 72 hours worth of tasks on one list. However, as long as I write a minimum of 1.5 hours daily, I WILL get somewhere with this.

    I am reminded of an old “Ashleigh Brilliant” postcard that said: “If I do just a little bit each day, eventually the task will completely overwhelm me…”

    (My other favorite postcard of his showed 2 oxen bound in a yoke, and said “We’ve been through so much together, and most of it was your fault…”)

    Truer words were never spake.

    Hey! I, too, was born in June–June 2nd! I find whenever I tell people I’m a Gemini, they look sad and say, “Awww, that’s too bad. It must be difficult being two-faced.”
    Our sign has a bum rap. Any suggestions for a snappy reply?

    L&K, MaryB

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