As the semester got busier, chances are you started saying “I’ll get to that in the summer” about a lot of things, especially writing. At this point you’ve probably got a list that is roughly “Write all the things.”
The fact is, you also need to rest. And you will feel a lot better at the end of the summer if you’ve actually accomplished something. That means focus. Your plan for the summer will include important things and urgent things; real rest and working in restful ways.
You may still be anxious about all the things you wished you could fit in. Here’s a permission slip you can fill in with the top 3 things you are NOT going to do this summer. (I’ve put placeholders in the form.) Print and pin to the wall as a reminder.
Download permission slip (PDF) (Right click/Ctrl-click and save link as… open in Adobe or Preview, fill, print)
Be compassionate with yourself
Your plan, with it’s priorities and boundaries and slack, is part of a larger process of creating a sustainable pattern of working. It will be more productive and more enjoyable in the long run.
Do your best. Think of what you do now as “How it is this year”, rather than “How it is and evermore shall be.” Every year gets to be different.
You chose your top priority by selecting the project that would feel best to make progress on. I highly recommend using the summer to do things that are hard to do in term time, things that require extended focus for example. I’ve explained that in more detail in these two posts:
Summer Writing Plans goes into more detail about what benefits from long intense periods of focus, and what can be done in short bursts of time during term.
Schedule Writing Retreats offers a model of long intense focus on a writing project that is NOT binge-writing.
Make sure you are not attaching magical outcomes to particular tasks.
Be realistic about what you can accomplish.
Don’t get surprised by normal stuff. Sometimes I put “lunch” and “walk the dogs” in my calendar to remind myself that those things take actual time that I can’t spend on anything else.
Regular breaks, exercise, good food, and rest make you more productive. Spending time on those things is never a waste of time.
Take the weekend off.
Or at least observe a sabbath (which just means 1 day in 7, holiness optional). Write every working day. Non-working days are important, too.
I’ve written a separate post on how to take the weekend off, because you aren’t the only one who struggles with that.
The downside of autonomy is that you are the only one who is going to set limits on what you do. If you have perfectionist tendencies, then it’s going to be pretty tough.
Posts I’ve tagged Perfectionism give some helpful hints on recognizing your priorities and dealing with those perfectionist tendencies. Here are a few other blog posts that might be helpful.
If it doesn’t all fit, then it doesn’t all fit.
No amount of pretending that you can write that article in half the time is going to make it so. Go back to Prioritize, and Renegotiate.
Remember to breathe. You can do this.
Academic summer resolutions by Helen Pallett provides a nice example of one way of approaching summer.
Thoughts on summer writing by Janine Utell gives a good sense of how one academic structured her summer and made decisions with lots of links to other resources
How to Restart your Writing Practice: A Few Ground Rules by Tanya Golash-Boza
Would you like support?
The Academic Writing Studio provides just enough structure to support your writing through the summer and also includes a Planning Your Summer class, a members forum, and monthly Office Hours. Learn more about how the Studio can support your summer plans.
Edited 29 March 2016; related posts last updated 26 March 2019; information about the Studio added 16 April 2019.