In previous posts, I showed you how to get your summer off to the right start by making a schedule, time map, and setting a summer start date; determining what your writing will look like; and negotiating the crucial first weeks. But summer is not just about writing. Here are 6 other things you should consider adding to your schedule.
Do a Semester Debrief
If at all possible, you should do this sooner rather than later. Interested in a free end-of-semester checklist? Download yours, free. The main points are: review your course policies and assignments, choose 20% of lessons to revise.
Learn a New Skill or Tool
Research suggests that it takes about one month (or 20 hours) to become passable in a new skill. So, the summer is the perfect time to devote to sustained practice. What you choose is up to you, of course. But you might consider learning at least one skill or tool that will make your semesters more efficient. For instance, if you do not currently touch type, now is an ideal time to learn. Or, the summer is an ideal time to begin using a new word processor (I highly recommend Scrivener) or reference manager.
Create or Update Your 5- and 1-Year Plans
Whether you are a graduate student or a professor, a 5-year plan will help you visualize your project deadlines. Karen Kelsky offers sage advice on why you need a five-year plan, and what one looks like. These are especially important if you are on the tenure-track, when your final 1-1.5 years are “dead time”–your application is being reviewed by committees, so all your materials must have been published by that point.
Your plans should definitely include:
- Deadlines for your existing writing projects
- Tenure-track or job market deadlines
- Conference meeting dates (generally) for your fields
- Abstract due dates (generally) for said conferences
- Book and paper prize award deadlines
- Major internal and external grant and fellowship deadlines
- Your tentative publishing pipeline
Update Your CV, Standard Bios, Narratives, and Supporting Documentation
Everyone can benefit from ensuring her CV and bios (for conference purposes) are up to date. But if your school does not have an annual review process (at mine, we undergo an annual review every year) and you are on the tenure-track, now is a crucial time to review your year. If you wait until your formal midtenure review, you will probably forget things.
Assemble the following information, which is unlikely to be elsewhere in your records (CV, syllabi, etc.):
- What committees did you serve on? In what capacities? What were your accomplishments. Find and save meeting notes if necessary.
- Did you supervise student projects? What were their outcomes?
- What other service activities did you engage in? Did you apply for and receive external funding for cultural events? Give a talk at the local library?
- What nice emails or notes did you receive? Save these.
- Did you start any initiatives? Revise the curriculum? Recruit new majors or minors?
- What trainings did you attend on campus and off?
Prepare Your Fall Classes
After doing your semester debrief, choose about 20% of the course (max) to revise for the next iteration. Also consider pre-writing template emails to respond to student situations that arise frequently.
Find Quick, Healthy Meals Your Family Loves Using Ingredients You Usually Have on Hand
This one is probably not obvious, but now is the ideal time to identify some quick, go-to meals and snacks that you can make when things get hectic during the semester. Now is also the ideal time to experiment with new tools and preparation methods. Some of my cooking-disinterested colleagues swear by the InstaPot, which, in their words “miraculously takes chicken from frozen to ready-to-eat in 20 minutes.” I cannot survive without my Hamilton Beach crock pot.
If possible, you should identify at least one recipe you can prepare in 20 minutes with ingredients you usually have on hand. You should also pick at least one recipe you can make in a batch, freeze in portioned sizes, and reheat in the microwave. Consider, too, experimenting with recipes whose leftovers keep well, or can be reused in other dishes.
What skills or tools do you plan to learn this summer? Did any of the tips surprise or motivate you? Have questions about how to have your most productive summer yet? Ask in the comments below or by email!