Using Summer To Think Big

Yay it’s summer. Well, not really. But it’s summer in terms of academia. My work load in summer shifts quite a bit. During the normal school year, I have 1:1 appointments, 7-8 students to supervise, classroom presentations, social media to run, and emails to wrangle. During the summer, I have random 1:1 appointments, 1 student to supervise, social media to run, and fewer emails to wrangle. Summer is my time to think big and dig deep into projects. I have “Futuristic” as one of my top 5 Strengths, so I pretty much start thinking about my “summer” list in early Spring semester. My goal for this year was to not have too many items on my list so that I could be more open to whatever came up. I ran into that issue last year. I had this huge list of projects I wanted to accomplish and 2 major things happened as the summer unfolded – as an office we identified several new in-depth objectives we wanted to work on and I fell in love with Twitter data and analyzation. Well, my grand plan didn’t really work. I have a decent list of projects to work on, but most of them I’m doing with the assistance of one of my students.

After looking through my list of projects to work on over the summer, I realized that they broke down nicely into 5 different areas. I thought it would be good to share as many other Student Affairs/Higher Education folks may be looking for a way to dig deeper into their work this summer.

  • Training and other professional development I want and/or need to do.
  • Projects my boss wants me to tackle (like writing an office communication plan).
  • Things that need updating (usually yearly items).
  • Processes that can be established or worked ahead on that will make life easier once the school year starts.
  • Whole office projects that can’t really be predicted.

My method for tackling my summer to-do list goes somewhat like this: what I need to do, what I want to do, where do I need or want help, and what is more of a pipe dream. Right now, I’m actually working on getting my performance evaluation done and am itching to start tackling my summer projects. One of my first major things to tackle is doing some work on the office blog and analyzing data about all of our social media efforts from the past year. Scratch that, my first major thing was working up a list of things for my student to work on. It’s my first summer having a student dedicated to working on projects with me. Yay! Normally, my students, the Peer Educators, don’t work. But earlier this spring, my boss asked me if I’d be interested in having one of my students help me get some stuff done this summer. I answered with a resounding “YES!” I ended up asking the first student who had inquired about working during the summer much earlier in the spring semester (we have 2 of our students who work our front desk throughout the summer). He also happened to be the Peer whose skills matched the projects I need assistance with. Win-win.

So what does your quiet time of the year look like? Big projects, small projects, just catching your breath?

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