How Academics Can Make the Most of What’s Left of Summer
Each summer begins the same way, with the beguiling promise of long open days for scholarship interspersed with extra time to spend out-of-doors with family and friends. But by the end of July, the lazy days of summer are racing past, and if you’re like most academics, you haven’t gotten nearly as much done as you hoped. Perhaps a family vacation or a conference is scheduled in the coming days, leaving only a few open weeks until classes start. And what about preparing for those classes? Should you continue to focus on your scholarship but be left to scramble your way through the semester? Or would it be better to prepare now for the term, in hopes that will help you to maintain your scholarship through the semester? What should you do?
To make the most of what is left of the summer I advise a middle path. Continue to use your mornings to move your own research and writing forward. Save meetings and class preparation for the afternoons. Prepare thoroughly for the early classes in the semester so that you have a good head start, but don’t drop your own research to plan every last session of your class.
If heading out of town, you might allow your self some work time on a flight or in the car on the way to a beach vacation, but once you get there, put away your computer and fully immerse in the experience. If there are three days when the daycare is closed before school starts, get a sitter for early part of the day, but knock off early to take your kids to the pool or go out to the lake with a picnic dinner.
Academics who write for moderate amounts of time each day often accomplish more than they expect, and professionals who take time for rest and relaxation are actually more successful than their counterparts who never take a vacation. All too soon, those of us in the Northeast will see some leaves changing to yellow, auburn, and orange, and campuses will start to fill back up with students returning from summer vacation. But in the meantime, I hope you can savor a few more weeks for both scholarship and relaxation.