Acing summer productivity

A guide to achieving academic goals

Summer can be a great opportunity to get ahead on work.

For some students, summer is a time to kick back and soak up the sun, but for many it’s also a chance to catch up on academics or even get ahead.

A couple of months without university can be a freeing experience, but if you also want to be productive during your time off, planning is necessary.

Whether you’re preparing for an MCAT or LSAT, or completing summer courses, building a daily routine will ensure you achieve your goals while getting some well-deserved relaxation.

Step 1: Lay out your priorities

This step is especially important for people writing big exams near the end of the summer. By tangibly laying out your goals for May through August and displaying them somewhere in your workspace, you won’t forget about that approaching MCAT date—not that you ever could, anyways.

Step 2: Ask yourself what you need to achieve

It’s a good idea to decide how many hours and days you’ll need to achieve the perfect score for a test. For someone writing a standardized test like the LSAT, penciling in a necessary three-to-four hours a day of studying forces you to prioritize a designated time when your only focus will be your work.

A helpful pre-summer tip for keen test-takers is taking practice tests—found online or in a bookstore—to gauge where you are in your journey. This can help you highlight the key areas you need to focus on moving forward.

If you’re taking summer courses, pinpoint the grade you’d like to achieve and get an understanding of how many hours a week that may take to reach—a summer syllabus will likely lay that out for you.

The same principles work for volunteering or achieving personal goals.

The key is to be realistic, but also willing to make sacrifices. You may not get to go to the beach one morning with your friends, but when you go out with them that evening you’ll feel much more productive and excited to have fun.

Step 3: Confront your spaces

Whether you’re staying at home over the summer or in Kingston, understanding what spaces you’re working with is crucial to achieving productivity. 

If you find it difficult to be productive at home because of distractions—which may include your enormous, adorable dog—look into the spaces around you that may work.

Finding a coffee shop with hours that work for you can provide a quiet escape when you’re struggling to focus at home. Your local library can also serve as a great space to complete schoolwork.

Regardless of where your space is, constrain your worktime to only the space or time you’ve blocked out. Make it a routine space.

Treat your summer goals the same way you’d treat classes. You want to approach each study or work session with attentiveness, preparation, a willingness to learn, and maybe a cup of coffee.

Step 4: Schedule down time

This might sound certifiably type A, but scheduling downtime will allow you to achieve the summer fun you want alongside productivity.

An example of this could be working in the morning from 8 a.m. to noon and then giving yourself the rest of the day off. Similarly, you could sleep in till noon, work from 2 p.m. to dinner, and go out in the evening.

However you choose to do it, scheduling can help you attain academic goals while also making time to enjoy others’ company, and watch all the movies and shows on your bucket lists. 

This way, when you return to school in the fall, you’ll be ahead of the game, confident going into your next year, or ready to take on a lighter course load—the possibilities of four summer months are endless.

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