Danny and Sandy were completely right when they were infatuated with "those summer nights," but especially because these summer days suck the productivity and enthusiasm right out of me. I classify summer as the specific days of the year when I can seriously relate to the Wicked Witch of the West. I haven't yet become a puddle, but I'm one non-air conditioned room away from it.
Although I might not be literally going through a phase change from solid to liquid, my brain definitely feels goopy when I have work to do and I can't concentrate because of the temperature. And what's worse? When I actually love the project that I'm working on in my own time and I still can't get things done because I'm taking on my true calling to become an oven-roasted turkey.
It's taken a few excruciatingly-long summer vacations for me to figure it out, but I finally have some tips for surviving the heat and conquering your goals.
1. Find times to work when it's cooler
The best way to avoid the heat getting to you is to avoid using your brain beyond its basic functions (not literally) when it can't handle it. Now, this sounds both self-explanatory and possibly like the root of your unproductivity. But think about it. If you use your brain when it's the most effective, then you're going to be the most productive.
Now, for myself, I have found that I get the most done before 10-11 a.m. and after 5-6 p.m. depending on the day's weather. So, in the time between I just don't use my brain for mental work when I know it will only come unprepared and unwillingly.
Instead, during those times, I do my household chores, finish some housekeeping/administrative business, and clean up my inbox. Also, this is the best time for me to go out with my friends because I need the break anyway.
Find which times work for you and prioritize your mental energy for those hours.
2. Set up a room ahead of time
Now, if you've been in your home/apartment/office for a while now, you generally know the space well enough. Even if you don't, you will tend to have a bit of space that is your own. Keep this room set up for your working purposes for the day-to-day.
This means keeping all your belongings together in a bag or on a table so you don't find yourself needing to get up and around. Staying generally in one place (besides taking those necessary breaks) allows concentration to take place and I have found that I stay way cooler. I also keep a fan oscillating around me, or sometimes prep the room with the AC at a higher temperature. Keeping that moving air will allow the room to feel livable, but won't give you a headache.
3. Pick yourself up and go outside
I know. I might as well suggest a light dip in a volcano while I'm at it. But, taking those 10-15 minutes to get out of your apartment and going to work in a café can help a lot.
Now, if you don't study well outside of your space, then this might not be the most useful advice. However, when I really start losing it, I make an executive decision to pack up my belongings and go to a Starbucks or a bookstore. The change of scenery restarts my brain, I end up being surrounded by equally motivated people, and if you don't have AC, this could be where you cool down just a little.
4. If you're a napper, stay away from beds and sofas
Drowsiness in the middle of the day is my worst enemy. Like, my actual mortal nemesis. Horns, cape, and lime-green Disney villain highlighting: the works.
I know that I prefaced this section with "If you're a napper..." but honestly, even if you're not one, the heat can make one out of you. This goes for me. I rarely nap when the weather is more manageable, but the moment a heat wave strikes, catch me grabbing ZZZs at 2 p.m. And I really hate it especially when I've had a restful night already.
I do everything I can to not be totally comfortable while studying. This might not work for everyone, and if you have certain physical requirements or limitations, this might be counter-effective. But, I tend to stay away from my bed, my sofas, and generally cloth surfaces. If I don't I both end up wanting to sleep, and the cloth tends to retain heat.
5. Stay hydrated
Pretty self-explaining. Drink healthy amounts of water and coconut water so that your body stays healthy and alert. I limit drinks like coffee/tea and avoid energy drinks that can dehydrate me and cause my body to crash harder in the heat. Keep your kidneys happy!
Those are just some hacks that have helped me stay as happy and energetic as I can in previous summers, and I'll continue to do so in this one. Find what works for you and go do that cool thing that you've been putting off during the academic year.