Scheduling the “Endless” Summer

Huntington BeachCounting down the days to summer never gets old, even if the relative freedom of childhood is long behind. There’s an unfortunate set of expectations from outsiders looking in at our summers in academia, which can appear to be limitless. Sometimes, we even fall into that trap ourselves, imagining how every project, every exercise goal, will somehow be manageable during these short months. As Mark Sample observed on Twitter the other day, “Summer already feels like it’s slipping away and it hasn’t even begun yet.”

If this feeling sounds familiar, as it certainly is to me, this might be a good time to take stock of your summer before it’s already gone. The illusion of the endless summer can be dangerous. For many, especially in alt-ac or contractual and staff positions, it’s a complete falsehood: summer classes and administrative work can mean more scheduled time than ever, and of course most of the university doesn’t suddenly shut down at spring graduation. Even more unscheduled time or perceived freedom can be dangerous, with the temptation of grandiose planning and over-commitment.

The guide to things that helped ProfHackers survive summer repeatedly notes the value of smartphones and technology in keeping summer in balance. As part of trying to get a handle on my own upcoming summer insanity, I’ve been trying a different type of calendar app, Diacarta. Currently only for iOS, Diacarta is almost a throwback to the sticker-based planners of childhood with visual indicators for a range of tasks. I particularly like the use of a visual wheel to show the division of hours in the day between certain tasks. Given the often unpredictable nature of summer scheduling, I find this helps me keep track of the ebb and flow better than my usual Google calendar fallback.

My day from noon to midnight #diacarta

I also try to mark this academic “new year’s eve” with a set of focused resolutions. Kathleen shared her transformation of the resolution tradition to August, which can definitely be helpful when setting fitness goals and aiming for other big projects that don’t squeeze so easily in the gap between the fall and spring semesters. Even if resolutions aren’t your thing, I’ve found that comparing the activities on my calendar with the goals on my list can be a good reality check on my summer aspirations.

How do you keep a handle on your summer planning? What tricks or apps do you use to manage your goals and resolutions before the start of another academic year? Let us know in the comments.

[Beach Creative Commons Image from Flickr User John Paul Rodriguez; Diacarta in action Creative Commons Image from Flickr User Bradley Stemke]

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