Dear Faculty Relations  – You may recall my note from last year. I reached out in a bit of a panic in July because I felt, once again, like I was coming up short in terms of summer productivity. I’m being proactive this time – reaching out as the semester ends. I’m still worried, though, that I’ll feel bad about my productivity come August. I would love advice on how to set myself up for a successful summer. – Making the Most of My Summe​r

Dear Making the Most of My Summer – First, kudos on being proactive! Planning anything at the chaotic end of an academic year is tough, and it’s a great step forward.

First, you need to make room for both work and recovery during the summer. And we want to acknowledge that summer work varies considerably based on one’s academic position and field of study. We love this advice on a thoughtful and balanced way to plan for summer, including some perspective on whether to teach during that time.

We also want to remind you that balancing work, familial obligations, and self-care is, forgive the cliché, more of a journey than a destination. Balance is tricky and requires constant attention. Here are some thoughts on approaching your summer with balance in mind to tackle the equally important goals of productivity and rest.

  • Protect your time. While there are some non-negotiables in terms of service, if you are asked to do time-consuming service work during the summer, reach out to a trusted mentor or colleague outside of your area or from a different institution for some advice.
  • Make a realistic plan. This 2021 article from our friends at NCFDD, including the reminder to set SMART goals, will be much more helpful to read now than in July! (Note: if you don’t have an NCFDD account, you can sign up for a free one).
  • Be intentional about recovery. Give yourself time once you’re done with the semester. Don’t sit at your computer the day after graduation and tell yourself you will write for eight hours. For most of us, that plan would result in a long day of misery and few words on the page. Being intentional about downtime will 1) help you enjoy it and 2) make the time when you work more productive. Rest, play, and fun are crucial to sustaining our well-being!

Written by Mimi Engel, Faculty Director, New Faculty Development, Office of Faculty Affairs, and Associate Professor of Research & Evaluation Methodology, School of Education, May 2023