During a hazy, sleep-deprived finals week, summer vacation becomes the only beacon of light guiding you through the trenches. But what happens once summer vacation commences? You may pack away your books, perhaps say goodbye to your dorm room, and head back to your hometown. Summer break for college students, a great contrast to the busy and stressful spring semester, inflicted me with this strange feeling of discontent: why am I so unproductive when I am not in school? I already binge-watched Stranger Things and indulged in The Great British Baking Show. I already slept in until noon and enjoyed every calorie contained in soft-serve ice cream in a waffle cone. Now I want to get back into a productive groove. Waking up early and getting stuff done can be hard without the motivation of making it on time to 9:00 AM classes. But I promise we all can make the most out of our summer vacations and minimize the adjusting period once school starts back up in the fall.
Read on for ways to stay productive and get the most out of your summer vacation.
1. Keep Your Alarms On
The worst sound to ever be heard: the iPhone alarm chime. I still get nightmares from all the mornings my loud alarm woke me up in a state of panic. After barely sleeping four hours a night because of assignments, the last thing I want to do is wake up early during my break. You may feel the same way. However, we must resist the urge to sleep the day away and keep our alarms on. The first step to maintaining a productive routine: taking advantage of precious daylight hours. If you sleep until noon every day, you will fall into a never-ending, vicious cycle of staying up until the late hours of the night. Now that we can finally enjoy the summer weather, you don’t want to let it go to waste by staying in bed all day. A consistent sleep schedule will help you start your day on the right foot, so you have plenty of time to get stuff done.
2. Set a Screen Time Limit
You don’t need to be an eight-year-old iPad kid to put limits on how much time you spend using technology. We should all be mindful of how much time we haphazardly waste on our devices because TikTok and Instagram can quickly turn into time-eating black holes. You can alter the settings on your phones and laptops to set time limits on how long you can use certain apps. This way, you won’t blink and realize half your day was spent binge-watching New Girl, something I am certainly guilty of. If you limit your screen time, you’ll realize your schedule instantly opens up for more productive activities. In your head you probably hear the voice of your parents, complaining about how kids these days don’t know how to put down the phones. Both young people and adults can benefit from a little technology vacation. More time offline = fresh air and tan lines.
3. Get a Cute Planner
A new planner for the summer season will help you keep track of all your upcoming events. Aside from book club meetings, concerts, and gym days jotted down, a planner can even inspire you to set small daily goals. For example, you can plan your week ahead of time so you can allocate small tasks each day. Writing down your goals puts you in a motivated mindset. Today, I will work out. Tomorrow, I will finally clean out my closet. The next day, I will spend the day at the beach. Manifest the fun-packed and productive summer you most certainly deserve. By planning your day, you will maintain a structured schedule and look forward to checking tasks off on your to-do list. Call me old-fashioned, but no calendar app can compare to a tangible agenda. Gel pens, stickers and a cute planner contain more power than you think.
4. Start Journaling
“Dear Diary, a chipmunk asked me my name today. I told him it was Joe. That lie will haunt me, forever.” All Vampire Diaries fans can recall this infamous and comedic Damon Salvatore quote when he mocked his brother, Stefan’s love for journaling. I will always be team Damon; however, I admire Stefan’s diligent journaling during the span of his long vampire lifetime. A summer journal serves as a tool to reflect on your day and practice mindfulness. Write down positive affirmations, recall the sequence of your day, or draft up poems and short stories. Journaling allows you to practice your writing skills and highlight all the pivotal moments in your day, something you can look back to as years pass. I might not be a 100-year-old vampire, but even myself, a mere mortal, struggles to remember the small details of what I ate the day before. I wouldn’t want fun memories with my friends and random occurrences in my day to disappear from my memory. With a journal, you can record the moments you never want to forget.
5. Start a Book Club with Your Friends
From a raise of hands, how many of us have books sitting in our room, collecting dust? As an English major, I am embarrassed to say, sometimes I lack the motivation to read. Starting a book club with your friends creates a sense of accountability so you have a deadline to finish the book. You also don’t wanna let the book club down! If your friends are scattered across the world like in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a book club can also become a great way to stay in touch with everyone. Some popular summer reads at the moment include The Summer I Turned Pretty, Love and Gelato, The People You Meet on Vacation, and Beach Read. Book club meetings also serve as a great excuse to get together with your friends. Nothing goes better than coffee shops and book club talks. How about park picnics, and plot discussions? For those who have conflicting schedules, Zoom meetings can also prove a great option. Swipe open your friend group chats and start a book club ASAP Rocky.
6. Find a Workout Buddy
Elle Woods once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy.” In theory, exercise seems great. In practice, working out feels like a chore we all try to avoid. Going on a health and fitness journey alone certainly ignites anxiety in the best of us. For me, gyms feel like a world of judgment as all the bodybuilders flaunt their muscles while I struggle to figure out how the treadmill works. Finding a workout buddy may be your saving grace. Whether you choose to work out in a gym, at the park or in the comfort of your own home, a friend joining you along the way makes the experience all the more tolerable. Pick up your bestie and head on over to your local gym. Try a spin class or even pilates. Cost-effective alternatives include walks around the park and free workout videos on YouTube. You can even Facetime while working out from home as a convenient option. A fitness partner will keep you motivated so you can both tackle your fitness goals together.
7. Try Out New Recipes
With never-ending summertime barbeques and ice cream trucks, eating in moderation can become difficult. Finding healthy alternatives to summertime favorites will give you the best of both worlds: enjoying yummy summery dishes that your body will thank you for. Take advantage of all the scrumptious seasonal fruits and veggies at your local grocery store such as peaches, watermelon and avocado. Opt for a bean burger and a side of grilled vegetables, or grilled chicken lettuce wraps with mango salsa. My personal favorite healthy summer dish: quinoa salad with chickpeas, cucumber, olives, and feta cheese. For those with a sweet tooth, a bowl of Greek yogurt piled high with berries, honey, and sprinkle with chia seeds and walnuts. As kids, our parents would always say “you are what you eat” to get us to eat our vegetables. This summer, step outside of your comfort zone and try out healthy recipes so you can maximize your energy and feel your best.
8. Deep Clean Your Room
This year, I skipped out on spring cleaning and used finals week as an excuse to ignore the ever-growing clothes pile in the corner of my room. Now, all my excuses disappeared, and I must face my messy room head-on. A clean room = a calm mind. Your room should be a sanctuary, a place for you to unwind without stressing about disheveled drawers and dusty dressers. A big step many people forget about: swap in your summer wardrobe. All winter, I longed for the weather to finally warm up so I could take out my floral summer dresses. Pack away your hoodies and sweatpants and say hello to short sleeves and tank tops. This summer, I want to feel like the main character, so my fits will reflect that. The smell of Pinesol and an orderly room will make you feel like a put-together, productive person.
9. Get a Summer Job
As much as you don’t want to think about work, a summer job or internship can be a great way to accomplish something resume worthy. With pumpkin spiced latte season and back-to-school shopping approaching sooner than we realize, saving up some extra cash during the summer must happen. Instead of thinking about work as an inconvenience, romanticize it! Get a job at an ice cream parlor and imagine you are Steve Harrington in Stranger Things. Apply as a lifeguard at a community pool so you can enjoy the summer weather, while also being paid. With all the younger students home on summer vacay, camp counseling and babysitting can also be great options if you don’t mind working with kids. The summertime brings an abundance of work opportunities. If you are ambitious and looking to add more structure to your day, consider getting a summer job.
10. Find a New Hobby
As a result of the hectic school year, many of us probably neglected hobbies we once treasured. As a creatively inclined person, I cannot wait to bring out all my art supplies. You don’t even need to be an art student to enjoy the occasional craft. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through Instagram all summer, head on over to your local craft store and attempt something outside of your comfort zone. The warm hazy summer sunsets inspired me to bring out my camera and reawakened my love for photography. At the end of summer, I plan on making a big scrapbook to capture all my summer memories. Another favorite of mine: crocheting. Crocheting and knitting happen to be extremely stress relieving and something people of all ages can enjoy. Crocheting may be a better option for beginners since you only need one needle. There are endless YouTube tutorials to help you get started. By the end of summer, you can strut in a whole new collection of crocheted tops and cover-ups for the beach!