I have almost two weeks before the summer classes begin and a list of items to tackle BEFORE another group of new students file into their desks. These items are almost always related to research, writing, and grants. I do tend to prioritize my teaching and classroom work throughout the semester. This need to write (generally while facing deadlines) can lead to a mental meltdown when I am already exhausted at the end of a term.
I am trying to embrace a few days of complete down time before tackling the writing. I used to avoid a transition time and just dive right into the next deadline. These days, I am finding I need a bit of a mental reprieve AND that a few days away from my "to do" list really can help me to be more productive.
Around my household, we have dubbed these days "off" as "anti-academic" days. At the end of term, I avoid my email (hey, it is only for two days!), I read only "fun" fiction or biographies that I can't find time for during the semester (this break it is going to be The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova -- I loved her book, The Historian), I garden, I watch my favorite movies (though they do clearly mark me as a nerd as these include "Lord of the Rings," "Star Trek," "Sweeney Todd," and, of course, all things super-hero!), and I spend hours skating at the park. In short, I get as mentally far away from the task lists and the oppressive deadlines as I can--even if it is just for a few short days.
Do you plan for a true "break" in academia? If not, you might give it a try. Those true breaks allow for a calmness and a focus in your writing and course design.
And now, I'm swapping out this keyboard and mouse for a garden trowel and book.
Consider also: "Vacation on the tenure track" and "Our work during our breaks"