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10 Ways To Stay Productive This Summer

Written by Alex Rodobolski

Illustration Philipe Cavalcante on Unsplash and Tyler Doupe from Student Life Network

Summer’s finally here. If you’re coming off a gruelling semester like the one I just had, I can’t blame you for wanting to do absolutely nothing for the next four months.

However, if you let yourself over-indulge in the time off, you might fall into some unhealthy habits that will be very hard to shake. Don’t let this summer break be like every other summer break. Follow these 10 tips for staying productive, and you’ll be more than ready to take on the next semester when it inevitably comes around.

1. Enrol In A Free Online Class

I know, I know. After working so hard during the school year, you just want to give your mind a break. And you know what? You’ve earned it. But don’t let this be an excuse for just sitting around all day. There’s an growing library of free online content out there to keep your brain sharp. Try enrolling with edX or AcademicEarth, both of which offer an extensive list of University-backed courses for you to choose from.

Not convenient enough for you? Keep up with tutorials on YouTube or Lynda to learn a new skill. With all this free time suddenly at your fingertips, why not finally learn guitar like you’ve always wanted to? Or download DuoLingo and pick up a new language. The options are endless.

Taking the time to learn something simply because you want to will give you the satisfaction of a job well done, without all of the added stress of grades and deadlines. Plus, getting familiar with a new skill will only put you one step ahead of where you were yesterday.

2. Make Your Bed Every Single Morning

This is possibly one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to being productive—that’s because it works. It might seem a little passive to assume that making your bed in the morning will solve any of your problems, but taking the time to do this small task at the beginning of the day starts you off on the right foot. At the very least, you’ll have a made bed. So why not at least give it a try?

The theory behind this tip is that making your bed every morning immediately crosses off the first thing on your to-do list. This sets the tone for your entire day and puts you in the mindset to accomplish all of your necessary tasks.

3. Do The Most Important Stuff First

Often times, when we have an overwhelming task looming over our heads, our first reaction is to do everything else first. This false sense of being productive can become a problem pretty quickly if we let it control our daily schedules. When it comes to getting things done, there’s only so many hours in a day. So getting the most important tasks out of the way will relieve you of the stress that’s stopping you from doing anything at all. Once you get past the initial anxiety of the task at hand, you’ll be able to breeze through all of your other to-dos with ease.

The Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change encourages you to limit your total daily tasks to five, and to rank them in order of most important to least important. It’s a simple method that helps you decide on what’s truly important.

4. Set A Schedule For Yourself

In conjunction with getting your most important tasks done first, you should set a schedule that works best for you and your needs. In the summer, it’s easy to just roll with the punches without planning ahead, and sometimes this works out. But when it comes to getting work done, plan out how you can achieve your goals realistically. Students are some of the busiest people I know, most of whom have to balance school, a job, a social life, family time, and a whole lot more. Life is a pretty difficult balancing act to perform without a little bit of structure thrown into the mix.

Of course, summer is a time to de-stress, so don’t worry about sticking to a strict schedule every single day. Think about what you’re going to be doing for the next few months. Chances are you probably have a job of some sort – whether that takes the form of an internship, part-time or full-time work, or freelance – which means some of your time will probably be budgeted for you. Outside of that, make sure you set aside time for the things you have to do (cleaning, cooking, sleeping, etc.) and the things you want to do (hanging out with friends or family, watching movies or TV shows, reading, etc.).

5. Attend Networking Events

If you’re like me, the thought of graduating and being thrown head-first into adulthood is pretty terrifying. Something I find comforting is knowing that I have people in my field that I can reach out to after I get my glorious piece of paper known as a degree. Getting to know people that are working in your industry can be intimidating, but the easiest way to do this is attending networking events. Research what resources your school has in terms of connecting you with professionals in your desired line of work. Most of the time, you’ll probably have access to networking events and mixers designed for these types of meet and greets, which can make introducing yourself a lot less scary.

MeetUp is also a great place to discover social and professional events to build your list of connections. If all else fails, send a cold email to someone that you admire. Remember, the worst thing that can possibly happen is they won’t reply to you. At the end of the day, getting to know people who are already working in the field that you want to be in will put you in a much better position for when you graduate, and you’ll find you can probably learn a lot from them.

6. Prepare Your Meals

All this hard work can stir up quite the appetite, but sometimes we don’t always have the time to cook ourselves the feasts that we deserve. Preparing some meals ahead of time can be a huge time saver, and it usually means you’ll be eating healthier when you’re not ordering take-out all the time.

Set aside a day of the week to be your meal prep day, and cook up one or two meals that can provide multiple servings for you to save. This way, you’ve got something that’s already packaged up and ready for you to take to work, in between summer classes, or whenever you need it!

7. Put Your Phone Down

Technology and productivity go hand-in-hand. However, more often than not, it can also lead to procrastination. The best way to combat this is to just put your phone down. If you need to do your laundry but you’re fifteen videos into a YouTube deep-dive, your laundry will probably never get done. Put the phone away for a couple hours to deal with the chores nagging at the back of your mind.

This one can be the most difficult for a lot of young adults. Don’t feel ashamed, because we’ve all been guilty of it at some point. Try turning off your notifications for certain apps, putting your phone on airplane mode, or just turn it off altogether. Free yourself from the temptation of the mindless scroll.

8. Get More Sleep

In order to be at your productive best, you have to take care of yourself. I know one too many people who will sacrifice sleep in order to get things done. While this seems like the easiest option, lack of sleep can have severe effects on your health. Start tracking your sleep – there’s a whole lot of great apps, like SleepCycle, that can do this for you – to create a visual representation of what a good night’s sleep looks like. Prioritizing sleep will allow you to wake up earlier, and will give you more energy to get things done throughout the day.

9. Stop Trying To Be Perfect

Perfect is the enemy of good. No matter how hard you try, you’re never going to achieve perfection, and that’s okay. You’re going to have days where you don’t get everything done. Heck, you might have days where you get nothing done. Let yourself fail, and find solace in the fact that everybody does it.

If you’re struggling to find that groove that really works for you, try and get feedback from your peers. Having a fresh pair of eyes assess the situation and provide a new perspective can mean the difference between good work and great work. Plus, it takes some of the pressure off of you.

10. Stop Comparing Yourself

While the internet is a beautiful place to find motivation and connect with other people, it’s also the pesky enabler of comparison. I find comparison to be one of the number one things to hold people back from doing what they really want to do. Just because someone might be further along in their career than you, doesn’t mean you can never get to that point.

Everybody moves at their own pace, so don’t beat yourself up for working at a different pace than someone else. Once you learn to put those blinders on and ignore what everybody else is doing, you’ll be able to focus on you and only you. And once you do that, there’s nothing stopping you from achieving your goals.

This summer, make time to work on the things you love. Being productive doesn’t always come easy, but with a little time and effort, you’ll be able to cross everything off your to-do list in no time!

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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.