In the next few weeks, nearly everyone will be back in school. Now is the time when people start reflecting on their summers and how productive — or not productive — they were. If you're in the boat of realizing how unproductive this summer has been, don't fret. You still have a few weeks left to pack in some new, better habits that will get you started off right for the school year ahead.
So, you slacked off reading, learning something new, getting organized, etc. Sometimes, time just slips away from us in the summer and we don't realize until it's almost too late to finish everything we had our sights set on at the beginning. The reality is, you're probably not going to do everything you wanted to do this summer in the next few weeks, but that doesn't mean that you need to worry.
The first step in making the most out of the rest of your summer is to take inventory of everything you wanted to do this summer and list these activities. Seeing everything on paper is helpful because then you know exactly how much you have to do still. Once you realize all the things you wanted to do, that may be motivation enough to get you going on a more productive track! But if your list looks something like mine, you'll have a whole slew of things to accomplish. It can be a bit overwhelming, but remember, it's your summer, and you should enjoy it as you wish! Take a few items off the list that aren't possible to do in the short amount of time you have left. This list is pretty arbitrary and pliable, so if you're not liking what you're seeing, change it!
The next step in being a bit more productive is to create a time frame for yourself. If you wanted to read a novel before you return to school, knowing how long the book is and how much you're willing to read a day is helpful. If you want to read a 400-page book in the 20 days you have left before you go to school, some simple math will tell you that you need to read at least 20 pages a day. If you want to take weekends off, subtract how many Saturdays and Sundays you have left from the total days and re-divide. Understanding how much time it will take you to accomplish your goals can be extremely helpful in changing the course of your summer. By having a daily goal of pages to read, spreadsheets to make, drawers to organize, etc. you will be able to accomplish your goals in a timely way before the summer is over.
A tip I have found helpful in increasing my productivity is limiting activities that take up much of my time until I finish my daily goal. For example, I took an online class this summer, and I needed to finish a chapter and take the quiz. I told myself that I could not watch anything on Netflix until I had finished my work. I had put it off for three weeks, and as soon as I put restrictions on myself, I sat down within the next two hours and finished what I needed to! Netflix might not be your vice, but if it's Twitter, video games or trashy magazines, try cutting these things out until you're finished with your tasks. It could just make you a more productive person.
Another tip I've used in the past is having a planner. I make a to-do list on the calendar section of my planner for every day. I always feel more inclined to actually do something when I can check it off of a list. If a planner isn't your thing, try making a sticky note with what you need to do for the day and putting it somewhere you can see it (a bathroom mirror is a great place, as you can check that you finished everything by the time you are brushing your teeth before bed). Also, creating weekly, monthly and yearly goals can help you figure out the small daily steps you must take to accomplish what you want to. Posting these around your room, as your phone background or as the front page of your planner can be a great way to remind yourself what you are working towards, and they make a great reflection tool once you achieve a goal.
By trying to accomplish things on your summer to-do list last minute, you're actually teaching yourself a few things. First, you will learn that you must plan ahead for what you want to accomplish. Secondly, you can realize that you can't do everything you want to do. Even those of us who plan perfectly still can't do everything. Finally, by being disciplined in your daily schedule, you'll be adjusted to using this form of motivation, and you can form good habits that will carry on into the school year.
There is no way to get back lost time, but by trying to salvage the end of your summer, you'll realize that you are able to change how things have gone, and you'll be able to plan accordingly for next summer. Hopefully, you've learned from your mistakes and will be able to better plan next summer!