This is the time of year when summer stretches ahead of us endlessly, but we all know how quickly it will actually fly by. There are 5 traps you want to avoid so you can make sure you feel rejuvenated when school begins again.
1) Under-planning your time off
The teacher who under schedules or under plans their summer thinks: “This is my vacation, why would I need to plan anything? I’m just going to enjoy my break. If I have to plan and make a schedule, then how is it really a break?”
This type of teacher just takes things day by day, and when the back-to-school ads begin in July, they panic. They realize they’re running out of time and the things they hoped to do over the summer — yet never prioritized or dedicated time for — just aren’t going to happen.
2) Overscheduling yourself
Ironically, the person who is the over-planner can get the same result. This person will start off their break with all these lofty ideas about what they’re going to get done: “I’m going to get the house organized, get all the repairs down, knock out all the doctor’s appointments, run all the errands, plan all the lessons.”
But because they were overly ambitious about what they could get done in a few short weeks, they have that same back-to-school panic, too.
Even worse, if you’re an over-planner, you might feel like you can never totally relax and enjoy the break. You have all these things you’re hoping to get done, so going to the pool or sleeping in or reading a book feels like a waste of time — there’s a part of you that feels guilty about using your time that way.
You may get a lot done in the summer, but you’re exhausted on the first day of school because you never got a true break.
3) Forgetting to prioritize small meaningful experiences
Whether you’re an overscheduler or underscheduler, you can hit the sweet spot right in the middle by prioritizing things you care about. That way, you won’t find yourself caught up in day-to-day life activities, where you’re staying very busy, but not actually getting to have a lot of meaningful experiences.
Try taking a few minutes to brainstorm answers to these questions: What does summer feel like for me? What makes summer feel like summer?
For me, it feels like summer when I get homemade ice cream from a little dairy bar in a small town near our home. It feels like summer break when I’m sitting by the pool. Summer, for me, is reading on the screened porch late into the evening. It’s watching fireflies and noticing when the tree frogs first start chirping at dusk. It’s going to our two favorite festivals. It’s getting fresh tomatoes and corn from the farmer’s market.
These are small, easy things but they can get lost in the shuffle of larger priorities, especially in the summer when our schedules are haphazard.
Write yourself a reminder or put it on a to-do list if it’s something you have to plan, and check in with your “what makes summer feel like summer” list a couple of times to make sure you’re taking advantage of those small experiences that mean a lot to you.
When you have a free evening, you won’t end up just puttering around the house. You’ll remember: I love cooking out on the grill and eating dinner outside, I’m going to do that tonight and really take in every moment of this summer weather.
4) Being perpetually on your phone
Our devices can take us away from meaningful experiences without us even noticing it.
If I don’t make time to read on the porch, it’s probably because I’m inside mindlessly staring at a screen. If I go on the porch and don’t remember to notice the fireflies, it’s probably because I was lost in something happening on my phone. If I go to the festival and don’t really immerse myself in it, I was probably more focused on documenting the experience than living it.
Time slows down when our phones are put away and the opposite is true while we’re on them. Have you noticed that? It’s why if you scroll through social media while on the treadmill at the gym, your workout is done before you know it. The immersive world of our phones is great when you want time to speed up, but when you want it to slow down, putting away devices is your best bet.
(I have a free intentional connectivity challenge you can take if you want to change your social media habits this summer — check the show notes for the link. It will help you slowly reduce the number of times you check your phone out of habit so you’re only using it when you actually want to be.)
5) Comparing your plans to other people’s and what you wish you could do
When you put away your phone and stop looking at other people’s incredible summer plans, you’re more able to enjoy your own. FOMO — the fear of missing out — is minimized. And that’s an incredible way to get more enjoyment out of your time.
Focus on making the most of your opportunities this summer — not other people’s plans, not what you did last summer, not what you hope to be able to do next summer. As the saying goes, comparison is the thief of joy. Keep bringing yourself back to the present moment and being appreciative of what’s happening now.
If you don’t have a plan for mapping out your summer and making sure you’re intentional with your time, you can get one as part of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club.
Those who are already members (or who graduated from the club) can find it under the June Week 2 materials in the membership site.
For those who haven’t yet joined, you can get it as part of the early bird bonuses for joining the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. We’re open to new members beginning June 15th, and if you’re on the email list to be notified, you’ll get in a little sooner than that even.
You’ll get the complete summer planning guide, plus classroom closeout materials, resources for streamlining and getting organized at home, and more — and that’s just what’s included in June. The club gives you a full year of printables, strategies, and resources for streamlining every aspect of your work.
This summer will be our 9th cohort, with over 27,000 teachers having gone through the program — it’s been a game changer for so many others and we’d love to support you, as well. Figure out what you want from your time off, so you can make sure you’re managing your time in a way to help you get it!
This episode was sponsored by TLC. Do you need graduate-level credits for license renewal or a pay-step increase? Look no further than Teacher’s Learning Center. TLC’s independent study, self-paced format allows busy working teachers to earn graduate-credits any time of year… without time restraints, traveling, or technology hassles. TLC has been offering these courses for over 15 years and is a partner with regionally and nationally accredited universities. Go to TLCGraduateCredits.com/angela to get your coupon code now.