Juliette’s Declassified School Survival Guide: May

Five ways to make summer feel productive


Photo Illustration by Emma Trussell

by Juliette Roberts, Copy Editor

Students, we’ve made it. Nearly. Even as AP tests, IB exams and finals keep everybody cramming to the last minute of the last day, sweet freedom is right around the corner. Summer may sound exciting to some and stressful for others, depending on whether you plan to spend your time taking summer courses or relaxing in bed.

Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to remember anything I did last summer if you asked me. Many of my friends have also experienced this summer amnesia and it leaves them feeling like they wasted their time. I don’t think summer is a time for studying unless you’re taking a summer class or there’s something in particular you want to get a head start on, but schoolwork isn’t the only productive work you can do. There’re plenty of other activities to do this summer that won’t leave you with a feeling of emptiness when fall comes back around.

1. Make a list

I know it sounds cliche, but sometimes cliches work. Making a list solidifies expectations and intentions for the future. It’s easier to avoid an idea if it’s only in your head because you can always push it to the side and tell yourself you’ll think about it later. Once it’s out in the open, it’s no longer a fleeting thought — it’s a plan.

You can put anything on this list — let your mind run wild! Summer is the best time to fulfill all the aspirations you had but didn’t have time for during the school year. This will be intimidating at first, like the phenomenon of having a million items on your wishlist all year long but inexplicably drawing a blank when Christmas finally comes around. Take your time; start making your list now so it has time to go from blank to full. Once you get the ball rolling, the ideas will come.

2. Take a field trip

A change of scenery is a good technique to encourage productivity anytime, but it’s easier to work into your schedule when you have more time on your hands. Technology is the final boss when it comes to beating procrastination, so the best solution may be to ditch your computer altogether and take a few books to a coffee shop or a park (if the weather’s not too torturous). With little to no distractions, it’s easier to finally get to that one activity you’ve wanted to do but could never find the time to start. Sometimes taking a computer is unavoidable, depending on the task, but even just a change in atmosphere may help alleviate some reluctance.

3. Start a project

The word “project” carries such a negative connotation due to the dreaded group projects and intimidating presentations that could make or break a grade, but it can be anything from finally picking up that book series you’ve been eyeing to trying out a sport. (Starting a Netflix series could also be a project, but I haven’t exactly met too many people who feel productive after watching Netflix.) Productivity doesn’t necessarily have to be school-oriented. It can be anything that keeps your brain or your body active and distracts from the mind-numbing nothingness that often characterizes a summer. For more ideas on no-pressure projects to start over the 104 days of summer vacation, you need look no further than the theme song to Phineas and Ferb.

4. Take a walk

Exercise doesn’t have to be spending an hour pumping iron in the gym or running until your muscles ache; exercise can be calming and stressless. Taking a walk around the neighborhood every day, even if it’s just five or 10 minutes, will be soothing for the mind and infinitely beneficial for the body. Studies show that exercise also helps you sleep longer and deeper, in addition to reducing anxiety and adding years to your life.

There’s no reason to fear a little exercise. Last winter break I spent nearly every day walking a few miles from my house to Target, and I never thought I would look forward to voluntarily exercising, but I’m actually excited to pick it up again this summer.

5. Go out with friends

The best thing about friends is that you can add friends into any of the aforementioned activities and they immediately become twice as fun. Brainstorming for the summer, taking a field trip to a coffee shop, starting a book series or walking around the park with friends will mean you won’t be stumped for ideas when somebody asks you what memories you made this summer — you’ll have somebody there to remember them with.