Around this time six years ago, a tween-aged version of myself would be pouring through all the popular, teen-driven magazines such as Tiger-Beat and Seventeen trying to stay on top of new celebrities, styles and all things “trendy.” One section, in particular, usually caught my attention as soon as I opened the glossy pages. No matter what publication, there was always at least one article pertaining towards the subject of having the “perfect” summer. Whether it be buying a certain lip gloss, making a sunscreen tattoo while at the beach or having a girls night with friends, the author always promised that fulfilling these obligations would guarantee a summer right out of "High School Musical 2"... or something.
However, now that I’m older and (arguably) wiser, I no longer have the neon pink pages of some sellout teen mag to instruct me on what will make my summers the very best ever. Moreover, with adulthood maniacally looming in my not-so-distant future, I feel like I’m ensuring that I’ll never have a career by sleeping until 11 a.m. and lounging around the house in pajamas all day.
And in a way, I am. Now, relaxation is important to both the mind and body, but during a season where you have more downtime than during any other part of the year, it’s important to implement your own structure, not just for now, but to establish habits which you will carry into the dreaded and ultimately unavoidable adult world. Here are some real tips to ensure the “perfect” summer:
1. Make Lists
This is the oldest trick in the book, but it stays relevant because it works. There’s nothing better than a physical reminder of all the tasks you need to accomplish in a day. And when you start writing them down, you visibly see that you have way more than you even realized to do. If you really want to get things done, write down a physical list rather than one in the notes of your phone. It will help you remember when needs to be done and you won't have the distraction of an iMessage popping up while you’re checking that list.
2. Set Alarms
A statistic completely made up in my head claims that the number one killer of time during the summer is sleeping. OK, maybe not, but staying under your sheets until any time past 9:30 a.m. eats into your day. You’d be surprised how many things get accomplished in the morning. You’re fresh, you’re new and you can get things done—I believe in you.
3. Manage Friendships
Everyone is home from college and out for the summer, but that does not mean you need to spend every waking minute with each other. Going out and about with friends has its advantages, but sometimes the people around you need to be reminded that your time needs to be respected. A two hour trip to a store with your bestie often leads to an all day affair. Although these days are often when memories are made, they shouldn’t become a habit. Even better, if your friends are as busy as you, you should spend time together accomplishing tasks or studying in the library.
4. Stay Sharp
This reminds me, watch out for Netflix. If sleeping isn’t the number one time waster during the summer hours, Netflix sure is. Turn off your laptop, leave your phone in the car, go to your local library and pick up a classic. Those books are famous for a reason. It is so easy to let your mind fall into the sweet numbness of constant entertainment, but you have to fight the urge. Get out of your comfort zone, get off your behind and challenge yourself, we will all be better for it.
5. Get a Job
And if you have a job, get two. I promise there will be parties, concerts and trips down the shore on your days off. Now is a really good time to start saving and investing your money. With limited bills (usually) or loans, there is no downside to having a better bank account.
6. Save Ya’ Mulah
Save, save, save, save, save your money. You work hard, and yes, you might play harder. But in the midst of this, you have to spend smarter. Believe it or not, summer will end, and soon the school fees will once again be calling your name. Even if your parents are willing to help out, you’ve got to play your part. Being personally responsible for how you spend what you earn is a habit that could save you in the future.
Eat at home before you go out, evaluate if you really need more clothes and put effort into finding free activities around the neighborhood. An afternoon walking through a craft fair listening to live music is awesome, and you don’t even need to buy anything. Wander through, people-watch, listen to the sound of people loving one another (yes, this is a thing, try it). You can have a good time on a dime, trust me.
7. Look Out for Family
Who is the person that you would call if you were in the emergency room and needed help? Could be your mom, could even be a really close relative or friend. Whoever it is, they probably need some loving too. It’s easy to take those around us for granted, especially parents. Instead of constantly running to a friends house or going out with your significant other, take a day off to literally just chill at home and interact with those who live there. They often need help, even it help is just a listening ear and will appreciate you being there (no matter how completely crazy they can be).
Staying conscious of what you’re doing is a task during the summer. With a whole lot of time on your hands and even more distractions, it’s easy to slip into a whirlpool of laziness and time wasting. However, use this as a reminder that work doesn’t end or take a break. You constantly should be looking to improve yourself both personally and professionally. Things won’t always be this easy, but while they are (at least for the next few months) use your break to invest in yourself and those around you. Have fun, enjoy the sun and remember that, unfortunately, summer won’t last forever.