The solstice is behind us, which means that summer is now in full swing: the residual exam stress-dreams have faded, the days of the week all blend into one long Caturday, and your ability and desire to stay organized goes blissfully out the window.*
Or at least, that’s the way it should be. The sad reality is that one day soon you’ll turn around and it’ll be August, and fall classes will be right around the corner. At which point you’ll have basically forgotten how to put on pants, let alone tackle a full workload.
Luckily, with just a little bit of planning and effort now, you can keep you your organizational skills from getting too creaky. Here’s how to keep your work habits sharp over the summer so you can be back on your grind in September.
*Unless you’re working a demanding summer job, in which case, uh…feel free to ignore our advice. (Although maybe you could use some pointers on networking?)
Wake up at the same time every day
This seems counterintuitive, because why get up early if you don’t have to? But the thing is, if you’ve been meaning to start your day a little earlier, summer’s actually the perfect time to change your sleep habits because you can take advantage of the long daylight hours to make it easier on yourself. The sun’s up annoyingly early – why can’t you be?
Be consistent about it, so your body can adjust to the new routine. And be gentle with yourself – you don’t have to get up at dawn for a jog and then immediately start laying waste to your to-do list. You might spend the early morning hours working on a personal writing project, or making a delicious brunch for one, or just reading with a cup of coffee for an hour or two. The important thing is that you get up early enough that you run your day, instead of your day running you. You’ll thank yourself in a few months’ time when the days start getting shorter and that brutal 8:00am lecture looks a lot less terrifying.
Set one small goal every week
Some days you just want to veg, hold all calls, eat trash and saunter from one rooftop patio to the next. And that’s fine! We would never tell you not to live your best life. But what if, every Sunday night, you made yourself a stretch goal for the week? It doesn’t have to be big – just something you’ve been meaning to get off your plate. Finally get around to calling your great-aunt in Vancouver, donate your clothes that don’t fit anymore, watch every single Batman movie…whatever’s been hanging around at the bottom of your to-do list that it would feel really good to check off. Then you can spend the rest of the week goofing off and still brag about your work ethic to all your friends. (If you actually do this, let us know – we will personally award you brownie points for your weekly goals and possibly even bake you actual brownies.)
Spend a little time right now – like, five minutes – thinking about what worked for you last school year and what didn’t. In what areas of your life did you do a good job of keeping it together? Where did things go incredibly, hilariously sideways?
You can probably think of a few of these. Now, pick one. What’s one thing you could do differently in that part of your life that would make things easier on you? Maybe your commute makes you miserable, and waking up a half hour earlier would help you avoid rush hour. Maybe you took on too much last year and you could stand to say “no” more. Or, on the other hand, maybe you were lonely and could stand to meet a few new people! (I hear volunteering with SAMRU is all the rage these days.) Pick one small area to work on, and make a promise to yourself that you’ll be aware of it this coming term. Tell your best friend about it. Write it on a sticky note and put it on the fridge. Make a reminder about it in your phone and set it to go off on September 1.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a full overhaul of your personality; you’re not promising to Be More Organized. We’re only asking for five minutes of reflection. When you’re in the thick of the semester crush, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, so if you start paying attention to the patterns you fall into now, it’ll be easier for you to catch them down the road and actually be prepared to do something about it.
Did you do any of this? You’re a hero! WILD APPLAUSE. Now, back to your regularly-scheduled Pokemon Go/lying in the grass/eating Nutella out of the jar with a spoon. We think you’ve earned it.