Summer is supposed to be the most relaxing time of the year. Or at the least, that’s the lesson most of us probably internalized growing up. Summertime was for sleeping in and staying outside playing until the stars came out. Maybe in your family, it meant going to fun day camps, visiting family or taking beach vacations (or maybe summers were a really difficult time in your family but you’re creating those kinds of joyful memories for yourself now).
Hopefully you still enjoy vivid memories of carefree summer fun from your childhood. What you probably don’t remember is all the work and planning that your parents/caretakers had to do to make summers work. You probably didn’t notice the many calls they made to arrange summer childcare and outings, the labor they put into packing and preparing for trips or whatever sacrifices they made in order to take time away from work.
Now that you’re an adult balancing your work and personal lives, you may have a better appreciation for how much stress goes into the scheduling logistics for a great summer. Time management and productivity challenges get magnified during summer. When you have adult responsibilities, relaxation often has to be scheduled. And scheduling relaxation gets tough when you have a packed calendar and a full inbox.
When you don’t have a solid plan that allows you to take that time away from work with minimal stress, you spend all summer feeling like you’re being pulled in different directions. It’s hard to be fully present in all your summer experiences.
Creating a (relatively) carefree summer starts with time management planning now.
Let’s first acknowledge that there’s no such thing as a truly carefree summer. There are going to be times when you’re stressed and overwhelmed and things aren’t going according to plan. No amount of time management planning can keep the weather or an illness from putting a damper on your Fourth of July barbecue or big road trip.
That said, starting your summer planning in May and early June can help you set yourself up for a fantastic summer in a lot of ways.
Early planning can:
- Help set you up to start the summer strong, quickly establishing the time management routines that are going to allow you to enjoy the entire season.
- Give you clarity about what your specific summer goals are (both personal and work) so you can be sure to create time and space for them.
- Save you from the stress of the last-minute scramble to get yourself ready to step away from your daily life before a summer vacation.
- Allow you to fully disconnect from work and recharge during long weekends, vacations and other breaks because you know you planned ahead and everything’s handled.
- Give you the chance to return to work after a break without dreading all the things you ignored or allowed to pile up before you clocked out.
- Let you breathe, relax and look forward to the summer, instead of feeling stressed about everything you need to get done.
- Create meaningful progress on your most important yearly goals, because you can’t afford to just let them drop when you get busy with summer distractions without creating more stress for yourself in September!
3 Action Items for Planning Ahead for a Carefree Summer
- Create a summer bucket list! Check out my blog from last year all about creating your summer bucket list. Writing out a list of all the things you want to experience this year, big and small, gives you a great starting place for creating your summer calendar. If you don’t schedule time for those peak experiences, you risk getting to Labor Day and realizing you never did some of the things you “meant” to do.
- Get clear about how your schedule/productivity typically shifts during summer. Make sure the plans you create are realistic for you and your lifestyle so you don’t abandon them by mid-June. Does your sleep schedule typically change during summer? Are there certain obstacles to productivity that come up for you every year? Are certain weeks/days/times of day that are historically less productive for you? Think back on what a “typical” summer week looks like for you when you’re creating plans. For example, if you know that you’re going to want to play hooky to join your family for afternoon swims on hot days, great—how are you going to build that time into your weekly plan to allow you to take those swims without falling behind with your work goals?
- Identify any tasks that you can take care of now to lighten your load later on. Depending on your current workload, this might not be super feasible. But if you can, look for ways to work ahead and get some things done now that you know you’re otherwise going to have to deal with during the summertime. If there’s a deep cleaning project that you know has to get done before fall, or an August presentation you can start outlining, taking on some of that work now will give you more enjoyable free time later.
Need More Support with Time Management Planning?
Don’t let time management and productivity challenges keep you from enjoying your summer to the fullest. Join me for Time Matters Boot Camp 90-Day Virtual Program to get the structure, support and tools that can help you break the habits that aren’t working for you and create lasting change. We start June 5th!
Enjoy the rest of spring—summer’s right around the corner!
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