Tips on Making the Most of Your Summer

by Kristine Scharaldi

Reading is dreaming with open eyes

Whether it’s through reading, sleeping or Netflixing…  DO NOT feel guilty about relaxing this summer! AJ Watt/iStock

You have taught all school year and you are TIRED! For many educators, summer is a slower time that offers opportunities to relax, recharge, and reflect. Here are some tips and ideas to help make the most of the summer months to “refuel” for the new school year in the fall.

Rest: The hectic pace at the close of the school year is especially exhausting for the mind and body. Allow yourself time to unwind and come down from the heightened stress and time pressures. Whether it is sleeping longer, lounging on a comfy chair, or another mode of relaxation, DO NOT feel guilty–you deserve it! Relaxing and rejuvenating the mind is also important. Studies continue to show the benefits of meditation; if you do not already practice perhaps you might want to consider listening to a meditation or mindfulness recording such as one of Tara Brach’s Guided Meditations (also on iTunes).

Dream:  Imagine what you want to experience and accomplish for the summer and school year ahead. Visualize and immerse yourself in the scenes in your mind. Get specific about what and where you see yourself. Let your creativity flow and don’t worry about the steps to get there yet! Ask yourself “What if?” questions such as “What if I had unlimited time to devote to _____?” “What if I could _______?” Allow yourself to be playful and bold. What will you discover about yourself?

Plan and prioritize:  What do you need to do to bring your ideas to reality? What do you consider most important? Record your aspirations in a way that is meaningful to you, such as in a journal or in list form. This can make your thoughts more “real” and tangible. Some ideas might seem overwhelming. If you ask yourself, “What is the next best step?” it will help to identify how you can realistically move forward. Even if it is a small accomplishment, it provides momentum to continue to move in the right direction!

Schedule time:  While having empty space in the calendar might feel freeing, many people make better progress towards goals when there are systems put in place. Instead of thinking “I have all summer to do this,” consider organizing your intentions by week or month. Make a commitment to tasks you have identified as important by setting aside specific time for things that you want to accomplish or adding reminder messages on your smartphone. This time does not have to be “alone” time–maybe you can make this a social or joint activity with someone who shares your interests.

Set checkpoints for your goals:  Summertime can seem so long at the beginning, but the time always seems to fly and before we know it, it’s August and then it’s over! So that you don’t wonder “Where did the time go?” decide on some benchmarks that will indicate that you have been successful and on your way to accomplishing your goals. Mark your calendar to serve as reminder of the tasks you are working towards. When the day comes, take stock of your progress. Recognize your efforts. If you have not reached the point you thought you would, think about what has prevented you from doing so. Set a new checkpoint or milestone to strive for.

Read! : I recommend Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.
I downloaded this from Audible last winter and listened to it while driving; I really enjoyed listening to the author reading his work. (Had it been summer I might had also liked reading it to myself in the shade.) This book has helped me to be better focused on the need to remove the non-essentials from my life and work by being more clear on what really matters and how I can best use my time. This is an ongoing and mindful approach to making decisions that I have found extremely valuable and plan to continue pursuing. One suggestion that I will follow this summer is his “Personal Quarterly Offsite,” or a regular reflection on my time and energy and what I am doing to make my highest contribution.

Getting moving with regular exercise and outdoor activities:  With the longer daylight it is easier for me to find time and energy to devote to regular activity that is fun! One of my favorite summer pastimes is kayaking. There are so many possibilities for kayaking that I love such as paddling in a group on a serene lake, packing a picnic lunch and meandering through a watery trail and stopping along the way, and rigorously paddling through a fast-moving waterway and feeling the adrenaline rush and arm muscles tingling. If you haven’t tried kayaking, it is easy to start by renting or joining a recreational tour. This also leads to…

Reconnecting with nature:  While I enjoy the educational technology work that I do, I love to spend time in the summer to totally unplug and explore the beauty and wonder of the natural world. I am lucky to live near the ocean and other bodies of water and also near gorgeous parks and hiking trails. Whether it is spending time fishing, camping, collecting seashells, or biking in the woods, I will be unplugging more often and having fun “offline.”

And for rainy days:  There will be dreary summer days that can be spent productively inside. I plan to search sites such as Get Ed Funding to find grants and funding sources for cool projects and Pinterest for ideas for everything (school AND home).

Have a wonderful summer!!

Kristine Scharaldi

Kristine Scharaldi is an educational consultant and professional development provider based out of New Jersey. She is the co-founder of Educate, an initiative that aims to advance education through training programs, research, cirriculum development and online instruction. She is also on the organizing team for the Launch NJ Ed Tech Group and works with this network to promote the great work being done in the State of New Jersey in the field of Educational Technology.