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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

A guide to make the most of your summer

Amy Miao
Whether it’s gardening or studying for a class, there’s a lot to do over the summer.

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to think about what to do over the nine-week break. Having more than two months of recess gives the false illusion of ample time to complete things such as studying for the SAT and can lead to procrastination. Many times, I’ve found myself getting into a slump, and I lose track of time throughout the lazy summer days. If you want to be productive and held accountable, planning out a schedule is the best place to start.

Step 1: Write a list of your must-do “to-do’s”

Your “to-do’s” are things that require commitment and are your personal goals for the summer, including academic and personal activities. Your list can be more casual; there is no need to put time stamps at this point of the process. Just take out a piece of paper and identify activities such as summer classes and programs that you’ve already signed up for. At the end, you’ll have a list of things you can cross off and add to your block schedule in the next step.

Step 2: Block out your schedule 

The next step is to mark your scheduled activities on a calendar to visualize it like a timeline. Of course, make sure to include your travel plans and down time to enjoy your time off. 

You can create weekly or daily schedules, depending on your preferences. Use a paper notebook if you want a constant physical reminder of your plans, or use online calendars if you need a more adaptable plan. Notion is a great online productivity app with a sleek, minimalistic schedule design and plenty of templates for those who don’t want to spend time making their own. 

Now that you’ve chosen your type of calendar, add in the things that are fixed and need to be scheduled around your classes, doctor appointments, etc. Then, add in the more flexible activities that you can move around. This can include when you should walk your dog, do your laundry and more. 

Make sure to always set a bedtime that allotts at least six to eight hours of sleep, so you will be well rested and ready to take on the tasks you want to do the following day. Don’t spend half of the day sleeping, as it can make you more lethargic and less motivated to do work.  You may also want to add a block for exercise, so that you’ll come back to school ready to outrun the freshman sprinting towards the cafeteria at lunch.

Finally, if you want to study for the SAT or preview a class, chunk your time into study blocks. Make sure to spread out your study time to process new information and stay consistent. Most importantly, give yourself frequent breaks to avoid exhaustion. You want to make sure your plan is realistic, so that you will stick to it.

Step 3: Find ways to stick to the plan

Now comes the hardest part: actually following through on your summer plan and resisting what I like to call “the summer procrastination plague.” 

The best way to make sure you’ll actually follow through is by figuring out what your motivation is. If you’re losing willpower to complete some academic task, think of your goal and why you want to complete it. SAT problems on geometry might seem far from your dream of being a future historian, but stick to your goal and push through.

With so many productivity apps around, the long summer break is the optimal time to go and try a new one. If you like using a pomodoro timer, Flocus — a virtual study space — works incredibly well for that. Sometimes, I put up a relaxing background of a bustling Paris cafe and soothing rain sounds to immerse myself in a soft ambience. You can also put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” to avoid any notifications and increase your productivity.

Final summer plan tips 

Ultimately, summer is for fun and for recharging your energy. While others may be able to plow their way through summer courses, personally, there’s a need to take a step back and simply relax sometimes!

You can always take up a few new hobbies like gardening and spend a few afternoons reading a book. If you feel tired, pair up studying with a short ice cream break in Saratoga downtown. After crunching through some chemistry problems, eating a creamy cold chocolate ice cream feels rewarding and particularly sweet.

If you feel the summer procrastination plague invading, here’s a nice Reddit quote about procrastination: “The next time you consider procrastinating, just tell yourself to procrastinate tomorrow instead.”

By the time you know it, the new school year will start again, so don’t burn yourself out by signing up for five summer camps and a plethora of activities. In the end, while it’s possible to be productive, summer’s a welcome break from the stress of school, so take the opportunity to recharge.

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