30 Jun Don’t Hit The “Summer Snooze” — 5 Tips For College Students To Remain Productive This Summer
After a year of school that finished under unique circumstances, it’s easy to understand that you may just want to “slack off” this summer. You deserve to take time to relax, recharge, and otherwise enjoy your break. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t suggest that it’s also a great idea to augment your summer plans–whatever you choose to do–by learning that art of “How to Slack!” Bad jokes aside, it’s especially crucial in times like these for today’s aspiring young professionals to make the most of their free time. With all of the political and economic uncertainty surrounding us, you owe it to yourself to be proactive this summer.
So, while you’re having fun in the sun, we thought you’d like to add these productivity hacks to your daily routine. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference these tips can make in feeling that you’re getting more out of your time off.
5 Sizzling Tips For A Successful Summer
1. Plan Your Days Like A Pro
Some days, you have so much to do and only so much time — hence, the need for some planning. Start your own planner by taking a few moments daily to jot down the goals and deadlines that you’d like to accomplish that day. Just several minutes will help you “budget” your most precious resource of all–time.
When you schedule your daily plans, be sure to set modest, achievable goals so you won’t feel disappointed if you fail to meet your loftiest expectations. You should also add a bit of “flexibility” to your planner to account for unforeseen obligations and concerns. Trust us, when something you don’t expect comes up, you’ll be glad you had a planner on hand to remind you of your most pressing deadlines.
But, keeping a planner isn’t just about good organization skills–many people actually use their planner as a way to combat daily distractions. For instance, try leaving your open planner beside you while you’re working on your laptop. Whenever you start to feel your mind wander, glance at your deadlines. OK, it may seem silly, but you’ll be amazed at how this psychological trick can help you stay focused.
2. Reconnect With Your Body’s “Sleep Mode”
You can’t have a productive day without a good night’s sleep. It’s just a biological fact. “All-nighters” and continuous espressos will never replace the benefits of being well-rested.
Unfortunately, an increasing amount of screentime has thrown our sleep schedules out of whack. In fact, new research from the University of Pennsylvania suggests about one-in-four Americans are diagnosed with insomnia every year. Another study out of Consumer Reports suggests about 80 percent of Americans struggle to fall asleep at least once per night.
So, what should you do if your sleep cycle needs a reboot? Well, Harvard Medical School recommends shutting off all blue light-emitting screens at least two hours before bed. If you can’t bear to part with your cellphone two hours before bed, at least try to wean off of electronics 30 minutes before bedtime. It’s a better idea to keep all laptops, computers, and cellphones outside of the bedroom. You want your bedroom to be associated with relaxation, not work!
If you’re having an especially difficult time falling asleep, you might want to try taking a warm Epsom salt bath to unwind. Alternatively, you could try sipping an herbal tea like chamomile or lavender a few hours before bed. Needless to say, you should also cut the caffeine when it gets later in the day.
Although there’s still debate over how long you should sleep every night, most doctors recommend between 7 – 8 hours. Of course, if you have any specific questions about your sleep routine, you should contact your primary care physician.
3. Expand Your Network And Your Knowledge Base
If you’re also looking for a job this summer, you may have heard that finding one is a job in itself. It’s true! A job search requires a significant investment of energy and time. You should also keep this in mind when you are writing out your weekly planner.
When searching for a position, you’ll want to take advantage of resources that might be available through your university. Most colleges have career development offices that would be more than happy to help you refine your resume, find internships, and make professional connections. Online resources like LinkedIn, SimplyHired, Monster, Glassdoor, Idealist, and Indeed can also be great for networking and job search since they are used by many HR personnel to both posts about positions and search for talent.
To complement your job search process, be sure to schedule an hour or two every day to practice your business-related skills. For instance, you might want to use this time off to strengthen your interview or communication strategies. You may even want to invest some time in learning a new language or taking online programs that are relevant to your professional, personal interests or simply about topics that challenge you.
Since education has gone online now, there’s no shortage of high-quality educational resources at your fingertips. Make the most of e-learning while you’re searching for a job.
4. Take A Few Moments To Evaluate Your Purpose
Times are turbulent. The news cycle inundates us with a daily flood of video that shows us all too graphically–and often, tragically–how the world is changing. We can’t deny that. But here’s the cold, hard truth–worry won’t change the world. If you want to change the world, then you first have to start with your mind.
Now more than ever, you should take some time to reflect on your life purpose. You’re apt to discover that a strong sense of purpose will give you invaluable inner strength which will help you face the inevitable “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, (as Shakespeare says in Romeo and Juliet).
The most effective way to discover your sense of purpose is to dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to mindfulness meditation. For some, meditation may seem like the most “unproductive” thing you can do with your time. However, science has clearly proven that people who have a regular meditation practice experience greater calm, clarity, vibrancy, and actually grow new neurons. With practice, your sense of purpose will strengthen.
5. Stay Connected to Your “Why”
On top of meditation practice, you may also want to consider keeping a daily journal. You’ll be amazed at the thoughts and emotions you uncover after a 15-minute “free-write” exercise. Writing and reading from your journal will help you better understand your goals, challenges, and purpose.
Finally, you should pursue your joy in whatever purpose you are seeking. The most satisfying life is one where you love what you do and are able to share it.
In Challenges, We Find Hope and Opportunity
The global pandemic has affected all of us. The current social unrest surrounding racism and policing has added a new tragic dimension based on a challenge that has been impacting us since the country was founded. A vaccine will be found and life, though it will not turn back the pages to what we knew in the past, will return to a “new normal.” The Black Lives Matter movement has demonstrated a force for societal change that is not going away, and in particular, has been empowered by student activism. All of this may be daunting at times, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity for you. There are many different kinds of opportunities whether you are looking for a job or a way to get more involved in making a change for the better in your world.
If you’re on a job search this summer, you’ve heard that many business sectors have taken a big hit due to the Coronavirus. But not every industry has done poorly in this new “work-from-home” economy. In fact, many businesses (e.g. cloud computing) have seen an uptick in traffic. The skills that most college students have are a boon in a digital economy and already a great potential fit with many professional opportunities.
There’s also the opportunity to take social action based on your beliefs. Donating your time and expertise to your local food bank or other charitable services will go a long way to getting you out of any funk by contributing to others. Helping non-profits with their social media, graphic design, and writing content as well as fundraising can be a great way to support change.
The bottom line is that there’s always an opportunity somewhere. We agree that it may be challenging sometimes to come across those opportunities, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The more time and effort you take for your personal development and in helping others, the better you’ll feel about yourself when you reflect on having made a difference this summer.