As finals and the end of the semester approach slowly but surely (or entirely too fast in some people’s opinion), I am beginning to plan out my summer and the details of all of the tasks I must complete before the beginning of my senior year. The list is daunting, to say the least:
- Study for and take the GREs and obtain a somewhat respectable score.
- Plan out and submit a curriculum for the Exploring English Literature FIGS section I was chosen to teach next semester.
- Research the English Literature PhD programs at various schools, with a particular focus on the specific research work of the professors at these schools.
- Research and read for source documents that will be relevant in the writing of my thesis, closely read the novels I plan on analyzing in my thesis, and begin to outline and draft the project.
- Research Fulbright ETA programs in various Spanish-speaking countries and around the world, work on the Fulbright Student ETA application.
Phew! Even though it only takes up five bullet points, it’s a lot to cram into one summer. Additionally, I will be working full-time (groceries aren’t going to buy themselves…), volunteering with a New Brunswick summer camp program, and I also have several important family events to attend, including my sister’s high school graduation. And of course, I would like to *try* to enjoy myself at least a little, as it is my final summer before I graduate from undergrad.
In order to alleviate some of my stress when I look at the list, I’ve broken my summer in month-long chunks to help me better manage my time. For example, after the semester ends to the second week of June, I will be focusing on my GREs. I will take the exam in the second week of June, and will hopefully be pleased with my score so that I can focus on everything else. Next, from about the second week of June to the end of that month, my focus will primarily be on planning my curriculum for FIGS. The written plan for my class is due at the end of June, and getting both the GRE and FIGS out of the way will open up the rest of my summer for the other items on the list. Breaking things down like this in terms of time really helps me to feel less anxious about the longer list of everything that must be completed by the first day of class next September.
Another thing I have learned can be extremely helpful is creating an actual written plan on how I am going to spend my hours. I’ve been putting this into practice this semester to find time to study for my GREs. Every week, after I get my work schedule, I sit down with my google calendar and enter the hours I will have to spend at work. My classes and the major due dates for papers and exams are already programmed in, so once my work schedule is in for the week, I add two to four blocks of time (depending on their length) specifically meant for studying for the GRE. In this way, I can better hold myself accountable to actually get some practice problems and vocabulary flashcards in, instead of just saying that I will do it in my free time. I plan on continuing this practice throughout the summer, and I recommend it if you also have major projects going on. Another great thing about this plan is that your free time is genuinely free. Because you have spent your scheduled time doing all of the major things you need to get done, you don’t feel as though there are important tasks looming over you when you are just trying to enjoy yourself at the beach, at a barbeque, or whenever you are just trying to enjoy the fact that you are not in the middle of an annoyingly busy semester.
The four months off in between the two semesters can be so valuable if they are managed correctly. I hope my summer productivity tips helps you figure out how to get big things done this summer, whether you have an internship, summer classes, or several important projects!