It’s July, summer is almost over and now what?
When you think of summer, you think of fun days full of beaches, sunshine, and plenty of relaxation. However what many creatives fail to notice, is that summer is also the perfect time to make milestones for your artistic goals.
You don’t need to work all summer, but if you want to make the most out of summer, you need to plan time to do what you love.
How you can make the most out of your summer break
Review your plans
The most asked question during summer is, “what are your plans?”. Well now I’m asking you to take a long hard look at your schedule. Are you using a traditional or digital calendar to write down all your plans? You may have a 9-5 work schedule, but outside of that, do you schedule time to make dinner, shower, or even read a book?
If you keep your schedule open for ‘whatever’ then it’ll quickly fill up with ‘whatever’ and you won’t have the time to work towards your goals.
If this question is suddenly making you think twice about your summer, then spend 15 minutes writing down all the plans that you’ve already made. Write down the day you’ll be out of the house all day to go to the beach, and that other day you’ll have to leave at 6PM to go to a late night graduation party. See what days you have concretely booked and block out those times on your calendar, preferably a digital one.
Use a digital calendar
The use of a calendar is critical for your first step to make your summer productive. However a digital calendar would make your efforts work even better. Traditional calendars are great since they don’t rely on any source of electricity nor will you have any ‘technical’ difficulties or barriers. A traditional calendar can be on your office or bedroom wall where you can see it and not forget about it. A traditional calendar could also come in the form of a bullet journal calendar spread that you can customize for your needs. Which is great.
However in this digital age, a digital calendar is best.
Almost everyone has a smartphone these days and if you use a service like Google Calendar, you can easily sync your Google Calendar on various devices such as your computer, phone, and tablet. With a digital calendar, you could invite others to the same event and if anything changes, everyone gets the update at the same time. No more miscommunications. You can set up alarms and reminders for each of your events, and it’ll let you know it’s time to stop watching Netflix and start working on your novel.
To be honest, I use both a traditional and digital calendar. My traditional calendar marks major events that I should keep an eye on, such as parties and networking events, but my digital calendar has almost everything else.
Now what you should do is take 15-30 minutes transferring your plans onto your digital calendar. Now you could visually see where your time is going and you’ll start to notice the gaps of times you have available to focus on your craft. You get extra brownie points if you start scheduling time to practice and create, I recommend doing those sessions in 30 minute chunks if you can (but 15 if you are really tight on time).
Now we’ll be taking the concept of making technology work for you to another level. Everyone would love a personal assistant, but most of us are too broke to have one. Your phone can be your very own personal assistant by the use of alarms.
Most people may have alarms just to wake up in the morning, but I’m suggesting to set up multiple alarms that go off through the day. If you want to get into the habit of journaling every morning, then set an additional alarm on your phone named ‘Morning Pages’, to remind you to write. If you don’t want to accidentally lose track of time while watching Netflix, set a timer for an hour so your day doesn’t magically fly by.
While some people may argue that using a ‘pomodoro’ timer will work better, I think good old fashioned alarms that come with your devices are a better starting off point for beginners. Besides as much as I love my Forest app, if I don’t set an additional alarm, I sometimes don’t realize that the time on that pomodoro timer ran out and I’m spending too much time on email and not enough time on creating.
Get an accountability buddy
While technology is great, having an actual person who can keep you accountable for your work is better. This is why having someone that you can call your ‘accountability buddy’, will maximize your summertime efforts.
I have an accountability buddy who I use Wunderlist with.
We’ll each prepare a list of tasks that we want to complete for the week and share our lists with each other. Then once a week, we’ll have a 15 minute call to go over what we did and didn’t do. It doesn’t take much time and embarrassment of ‘looking bad’ keeps me motivated to actually do what my list says I’m going to do.
However if you don’t feel comfortable with calling someone, then feel free to tweet at Take 15 what your goals are on Monday and we’ll check in on you on Friday to see if you did what you said you were going to do.
Get some sunshine
Most importantly, make sure you get some good old fashioned Vitamin D. While making the most of what is left of summer is important, don’t let yourself get burnt out. Remember that you cannot force creativity and if you need to take a break, then take a break.
Block time on your calendar to take a walk, or to see your loved one.
Just don’t forget to add in your daily practice sessions for your craft and continue practicing. We are excited to see what you can create.
Make the most out of your summer break
As an artist, creating something out of nothing requires time and dedication. If you are serious about your craft, or at least serious about reaching your goals, you need to make time for it.
Even if you don’t have an official ‘summer vacation’, this line of thinking could be applied to your day to day life or to other parts of the year that you do get days off. Life is too short to just leave your calendar blank for ‘whatever life gives you’. You need to be proactive in your life if you want to get results.