Tips For Adulthood: Five Ways To Feel Productive This Summer

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

Well, it’s summer again. Here in the U.K., the concept of “summer” is decidedly shorter than it is in the States. (Because school holidays are distributed somewhat differently, most schools break from anywhere between 6 and 9 weeks rather than a whopping 3 months.) Still, we are most definitely in the era of flip flops, sun tan lotion and beach reads over here.

While summer is a great time to relax, much like the New Year, it’s also a great time to set resolutions for yourself.

To that end, here are five ways to feel productive this summer:

1. Try something new. When I posted about my staycation in London last year, I talked about the value of learning a new skill. Last summer we taught my son to ride a bike and I myself became the proud owner of a Brompton.  This summer my “new thing” is Pilates. I’ll be honest. Until recently, I had no idea what Pilates was. (I also noticed that even people who did it regularly had a hard time explaining it.) I’m still learning (enough to know that it’s all about obtaining core stability in my abdomen which – as my Pilates instructor quickly observed – currently exhibits the fortitude of a wet noodle.) But let me be the first to tell you that if you’re having back trouble, get thee to a Pilates class tout de suite. Wow. I feel 300 years younger. Next up? Zumba. All the cool kids are doin’ it, I’m told.

2. Return to something old.  Of course, there’s no better way to feel productive than by completing a project that you’ve left half-finished. We all know the joy that attends tackling your dreaded To Do list. Me? I’m going to confront a biggie this summer: revising my novel one last time. With the help of my fiction writing group, I now have a much better sense of what doesn’t work about the opening (and we all know that if the opening of a book is weak, it isn’t going to be read.) But I also know that in order to do this properly, I need to have a block of time so that I can get back into the story and inhabit it for awhile. So I’ve decided to devote the month of August to fixing that sucker.

3. Fix something around the house. And speaking of fixing, summer is also a great time to fix things around the house, whether it’s cleaning out a spare drawer, tightening up the screws on a loose door knob, or adding a touch of paint to the wall that your kid drew on with crayons. In my own case, I keep a little box of broken jewelry on my bureau. It contains all the jewelry that’s gotten damaged over the years, but which I like too much to toss. There is, for example, a blue earring in that box which I bought in Paris when I spent a semester there in college (cough) 25 years ago. All that earring is missing is a back, and yet in all that time, I’ve never quite gotten around to gluing one on. No more, I say. I plan to wear those earrings this Fall! Need motivation for tasks like this? Find a fix-it club.

4. Read something that you wouldn’t normally read. Summer is also a great time to get out of your comfort zone in terms of reading. After all, most book groups go on holiday during the summer, and even if you aren’t in a book club, you generally have more flexibility – and time – to mix things up a bit. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction.  But I’d like to try and read more of it. So I decided that rather than plunge into War and Peace straight away, I’d first read a book that’s been on my shelf for quite some time: Michael Lewis’ The Blind Side.

5. Make something by hand. Over on The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin recently posted on the value of making something by hand. I’m not very crafty, but my daughter is. She frequently embroils me in her hand-made projects, whether it’s sewing a piece of clothing, designing a marionette or weaving a friendship bracelet. And it really is deeply satisfying to create something with your hands. Try it!

How about you? What are your productive plans for the summer?


Image: Pilates Video Class Exercise by myyogaonline via Flicker under a Creative Commons license.

  • Reply Eve

    July 27, 2011, 7:20 pm

    A triathlon.. really going out of my comfort zone.. I went from a couch potato, I hadn’t biked in 3 years, to doing something physically active every day. Sometimes twice a day, because of a pilates class for core strength.

  • Reply BigLittleWolf

    July 27, 2011, 7:31 pm

    These are wonderful suggestions. I particularly like #2, #3, and #4, though I admit that I’ve managed to do none of these thus far this summer, despite best intentions.

    In fact, I’m struggling with how “unproductive” I feel when I look at the list of must-do items that were slotted for June and July. Most, unfinished.

    What I need to do is focus on the unlisted lessons and accomplishments… (or add them to the check list, so I can have the satisfaction of checking them off?)

  • Reply Daryl Boylan

    July 27, 2011, 11:57 pm

    All good ideas, tho’ the last too (household projects & handicrafts are truly beyond me. However — exercise I can & do, frustrating tho’ it often is, and tackling the 2nd volume of “Remembrance of Things Past” I shall attempt one more time. I did love “Swann’s Way”, but somehow didn’t get further. The idea of something NEW is immensely appealing. Now what could that be?…

  • Reply Jennifer Taylor

    July 31, 2011, 5:42 pm

    For my dear boyfriend’s birthday this month, I embroidered five handkerchiefs. This included teaching myself the stitches, finding the patterns, and setting aside the time. Best part? I’m a vegetarian and he loves meat, so the images included bacon, cheeseburger, and a turkey leg. :)

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