How to not waste your summer and actually do something productive

For once

Set an early alarm, attempt to quickly compose yourself, scramble to the shower with half-shut eyes, speed-walk straight to the library where you reside for the entirety of your day, finally go to bed, repeat.

Sounds familiar, right? The hectic final week schedule is the very antithesis of summer. How do we, as Cornell students, go from this jam-packed, fast-paced culturally stimulated routine to one that is completely empty, uneventful and self-dependent? If you’re anything like me, you’ve attempted to find yourself a summer job, but what shall we do before that job starts?

Whatever your deal may be, I can bet money on the fact that you will have some free time this summer, and you aren’t sure how to spend it. My summer job starts on June 26th, and the month and a half of vacant time in between the end of school and the beginning of work remains both bountiful and idle. Thus bearing the question: do we sleep our days away or do we endeavor to create a summer of productivity (the ultimate oxymoron)?

Being productive may seem like a daunting task at the start of what should be a long, well-deserved break. However, there is no denying that productivity does yield satisfaction, and creating a day full of activity surpasses a day of boredom and nothingness. So… how can we do this? How can we motivate ourselves to actually do stuff and what stuff should we even do?! Using my own experiences, I will humbly aim to assist with the notorious summer dilemma that we all know too well with a few guided and universally-applicable steps.

Figure out what you like to do

Everyone has some sort of passion or niche. This can be as simple as reading a book or painting. If you like to read, visit your local bookstore and pick out a few interesting reads that you intend on finishing by the end of the summer; this will make you more well-read while simultaneously keeping your mind and body busy. If painting is your thing, venture out to a few picturesque places you’ve always wanted to visit and paint them. In this fashion, you will pursue your passion while also unearthing previously uncharted locations! I personally love to write, so I’ve taken it upon myself to compose this article; both keeping myself busy and helping some readers out in the process.

Visit college friends

Though Cornell is an extremely diverse place, many students do come from the Northeast area, and consequently are only a short drive away. Visiting friends in close-by towns can be a fun activity as they can show you where they come from, the unfamiliar places they refer to in their stories, and even introduce you to their home friends. Even if you aren’t from the Northeast and your friends live farther away, taking a long road trip is always an exciting and relaxing time.

Attend a concert or music festival

One of the great things about the summer is that your schedule is essentially empty, which frees up time for doing things you’ve always wanted to do…so why not do them? If there’s an artist you really enjoy and have always wanted to see perform or an upcoming music festival that is either close by or near a friend’s hometown, do your research and experience an unforgettable night. The Governor’s Ball on Randall’s Island recently took place in NYC from June 1st to 3rd, and, though I commuted with friends from my hometown, I met up with many college friends, saw incredible performers, and made memories that I know will last a lifetime.

Take advantage of the warmth – go to the pool or beach

At a school like Cornell, you have to make friends with cold weather, whether you like it or not. Whether it’s wearing multiple layers, running from class to class (to be in the cold for as little as possible of course), and circumventing any situation that involves going outside, the cold definitely adds some disharmony to your life. As such, it is our duty to take advantage of the warm weather! If you can’t make a trip to the beach and don’t own a pool/your friends don’t have one, even just going outside and embracing weather that is actually bearable will add positivity to your life. Going outside doesn’t mean being idle either; find a place to go on a hike or go exploring- you may find your new favorite place.

Get in shape

While you can certainly do this by going hiking or walking, going to the gym (or running outside) is a productive activity that improves your quality of life in more ways than one. Working out regulates your sleep, increases your endorphins (and therefore overall happiness), reduces stress and yields you that toned summer look! My best friend Lindsay and I have gotten into the habit of motivating each other and going at the same time every morning; we’ve found it’s both productive and a bonding activity 🙂

These five steps, when taken seriously, can allow for a summer that is productive and fun as they are individualistic and underscore what one truly enjoys rather than falling into the trap that pairs productivity with evasion. I hope you can learn something from reading this, in the meantime, I’m going to take a nap. Wait…that’s not productive.

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