Life hacks to make sure you don’t lose productivity over the summer

It can be as easy as reading a book

Sunshine, beaches, late nights and drinks with little umbrellas. What is not to love about summer?

Well, the hangover afterward is one thing – and I don’t just mean that in terms of the day after a big party, but the months you come back to the grind. If you’re not careful, summer can undo a lot of what you’ve learned, with research showing that the summer vacation can lead up to two months of lost learning.

That’s a lot! The thing is, it doesn’t have to be that bad. Just spending two to three hours a week on keeping that information is enough to avoid having to re-learn it all. That sounds like a pretty good investment, right? After all, what’s the point of all those productivity programs if you end up losing 20 percent of all you learn?

So, what should you do in those months to make it work?

Read books

Yes, you probably guessed that one already. Still, it comes in here right at the top because it’s so good for information retention! And besides, it’s easy to do, especially if you’re doing a bit of traveling, where there’s not much else you can do except for stare out of the window. In these cases, grab a book.

And yes, of course, it would be better if it was actually in the direction of your studies, but if that means you’re not actually going to read any of it, then why bother?

After all, good intentions do not lead to information retention. (Do you like that? I just made that up).

Check out a topic you’re interested in but don’t know much about

Is there an area you’d like to learn more about – like quantum mechanics, psychology or economics – but can’t access because they’re always using so much jargon? Then this summer, spend some time checking out Wikipedia Simple English to get some of the basics down. Then, take it to the next step with Wikiversity and if you’re still eager (impressive!) check out the free lectures at

Learn something new and keep your brain engaged!

Watch documentaries

There are plenty of documentaries out there that aren’t just about cute animals hopping around (not that there’s anything wrong with those, they’re just not that mentally stimulating). There are documentaries about computing, technology, science, history and more. These can be a great source of stimulation.

Don’t know where to go? Well, Netflix has a lot of docus. If you’re not subscribing there, then there’s always to check out, which is free.

Learn a new language

There are so many different apps that will help you learn a new language and the mental benefits of this are truly legion. So plan a trip somewhere as motivation and learn the language in the weeks before!

Take in some culture

You won’t want to be out in the sun every day, do you? So go see a museum! After all, you’ve probably got a discount as a student. Do it with a few friends and turn it into a competition. Who can find the most Russian painters? What modern artist was the most clearly sexually frustrated? What is the least visited art exhibition and why? This will make the outing more interesting and will give you a new perspective besides.

Listen to podcasts

The world is quite amazing, you know, and a great way to find out is by listening to some people who have discovered some of the world’s magic. So check out some podcasts about a wide range of topics and ideas and tickle your imagination. Listen to podcasts about science, psychology, or politics or any other theme you can come up with.

Take some creative classes

Stay engaged by getting creative! Learn to paint, play guitar, or dance. And don’t just do this on your own either. Then it will be far too easy to let it gather dust while you go outside and sunbathe. Instead, sign up for some classes – preferably one on one. Because creativity is a bit like sports, you need to get yourself in the habit if you want it to stick.

Write a novel

Alternatively, write a novel. It’s a great way to stay involved intellectually and it will give you something at the end! Now, take it from a writer, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t immediately work. Writing is a skill, so in the process of writing the novel, you’ll actually get better at it. That means that sometimes you should leave something be and come back to it later when you’ve written a bunch more. Often that will be enough to turn a bit of rough into a real diamond.

Also, focus on the writing, not the result. We’re our own worst critics and sometimes it takes a few tries before we get it right. Don’t give up just because it’s going badly. See it as a path to growth rather than as a miserable failure.

Help out

Help out at a charity, or find other people that need help and give it to them. Don’t focus on the people you normally interact with. They’re not going to mentally stimulate you and give you new experiences. Focus on people who you’d normally avoid, or working with people you normally wouldn’t. If you’re an atheist help out at a church. If you’re rich, help out with the homeless. Meet some people you normally wouldn’t and listen to their opinions. You might not agree with them anymore at the end than you did at the beginning, but at least your horizons will have been expanded.


And with that, I don’t mean down to the beach where everybody goes to screw and drink screwdrivers. I’m talking about going somewhere exciting, new and challenging. Take a tent, a camera, and some paper and write about what you experience.

Keep yourself sharp through learning who you are by getting away from that which defines you.
Enjoy your summer vacation!

Georgia Tech