Whether you have a nine-month appointment without summer classes, enjoy a nine-month appointment with summer classes, or have a 12-month appointment with administrative duties, you can maximize your summer efforts. Here are a few tips that work for me.
- Change your work space. Spend a few hours a week at a coffee shop, library area, home office, or empty conference room. A change in the walls (or fresh air) around you can stimulate your mind and rejuvenate you after a long semester. Or, simply close your door--a small, seemingly simple feat that took me a long time to accept, as you can read in "Closing the door--Prioritizing Research" post from last summer.
- Compile your notes. You've probably got scattered sticky notes, e-mails to yourself, half accomplished task lists, and various research ideas thrown around your work areas. Take a morning (or evening) to compile all of those amazing ideas and start to make a plan of attack to accomplish them. Do this regularly to stay on top of the ideas that can easily get "lost" in the chasms of our tumultuous semesters.
- Consider using a "power hour" method to tackle tasks that are looming large and that you might be dragging your feet over. Yes, professors can procrastinate, too. Try this technique to help conquer the biggies and move through tough projects. Read more about "power hours" in a post from a few years ago, "Research Power Hours."
- Don't shudder, but one great technique is to put your phone away. I turn my phone on silent and shove it in my drawer for the first few hours of some high-output days. I have also heard of others using plug-ins and apps to block Internet access during productivity/writing times. I haven't gone to that degree, but if you are interested, LeechBlock for Firefox is one option.
- Watch out for "Mock Productivity" -- the time eaters that steal away any chance you have at tackling your to-do lists.
- Don't create such a massive task list that you dread facing it each time. Chunk items into projects, split up your tasks, and set realistic goals to avoid burnout or frustration.
Share your tried-and-true practices to make the most of your summer.