Three months break from classes and deadlines may sound like heaven, but all that free time can be counter-productive. While there's a lot to be said for spending your summer partying and catching some rays poolside, your summer time off can be a great time to get more intentional about your productivity and your relaxation. Your summer to-do list can give you a boost in your career, teach you new life skills, or just help you relax so you can face the upcoming year ready to tackle the world.
Add to Your Skills
Have you always wanted to learn how to play the guitar? Do you wish you knew how to get all fancy-shmancy with spreadsheets and charts? Maybe you've got dreams of creating your own video game, but don't even know where to start.
You'll find online classes in everything from crocheting to pole dancing at sites like Udemy — and you can't beat the prices. You can even pick up skills that will be handy on your career path — just check out your Passion Planner RoadMap and figure out which classes or courses will help move you closer to your goal.
Try Out Your Career
Even if you haven't set up a formal internship for the summer, you can still benefit from internship-style opportunities. Yes, the most desirable internships are filled up by March or April—but that doesn't mean you're out of luck. Look around your hometown for businesses working in your career field and start making phone calls. Maybe your uncle knows someone who works at the theater and can make a phone call for you. Maybe a local non-profit could really use someone to create an app for them. From law offices to farms, nearly type of business will at least be happy to sit down and talk to you about what you can offer them—and in return, you get an inside peek at what a real day looks like in your dream job.
Work on a Passion Project
Without all those pesky classes and assignments getting in the way, summer gives you some concentrated time to work on a passion project. It can last just for the summer—or it can take off and become a real game-changer. Back in 2012, teenage sisters Lauren and Victoria Coaxum spent their summer creating Think Before You Type, an anti-bullying project. Now ages 21 and 22, the two sisters head up their own media company based in the work they started the summer they were 14 and 15.
Your idea doesn't have to be a world changer, though. This is a great time to do that mini website on cool places in your city or gather your poems into a chapbook. Think about all those things you'd do if you only had the time—and remember that it's summer! You do have the time.
How to Do It: Create a game plan and start working. Check out Thing.do, a nifty online productivity tool, to get yourself started. Reserve an hour a day to work on your project, and put it in your Passion Planner to help you stay accountable to your goal.
Have Some Fun
Of course, being productive doesn't rule out fun—that's what summer breaks are for, after all. Plan some mini vacations and day trips to keep you active and relaxed, and enjoy the time you can schedule with your friends. Keep in mind that traditional summer jobs also tend to be fun jobs, so you can earn some money while enjoying time outdoors or playing games with kids.
Enjoy Some Downtime
Summer vacations are meant to be relaxing, and relaxation can actually make you more productive. The trick is to be intentional about the activities you choose. Think about the things that make you feel good, and schedule time for them. It can be anything from a daily walk in the park to digging into that book series you've been meaning to read. Put them on your daily schedule or to-do list to remind yourself how important your downtime is in making you a healthy, happy person.
Whatever you choose to do with your summer, a little bit of planning will make it run more smoothly. Take some time to decide what you want to get from your summer, make a list of steps to make it happen, and go for it.
Deb Powers is a freelance writer living and working in Massachusetts. She writes frequently about health, wellness and lifestyle topics.