Summer Slump is Real

As I've written on here before, I've always struggled with making the most of these wide open weeks in the summer and rarely feel that I've accomplished much by the time August rolls around and I have to get ready for Fall teaching. I guess I'm somewhat comforted knowing that I'm not alone in this, but I still don't know how to solve the problem for myself. There's so little time for research during the semester with my teaching and service obligations. For the last three years my family obligations have also required a huge and inflexible time commitment*, but I can't blame my lack of productivity on that and I really want to focus on summer for this post, anyway.

As this article in The Chronicle explains, most faculty have unstructured summers without set schedules. Some people are off doing fieldwork or have the discipline to write on some kind of schedule. Some people continue coming into campus regularly over the summer to maintain a work schedule. I can often maintain some semblance of working while my daughter is in school, but once she's out and nobody in the house has a schedule** I find it very challenging. There's always some errand to run or chore to do around the house, or new recipe I want to make. And I love having this freedom to sleep in- after all, we are on nine month appointments and are not paid in the summer unless we teach extra courses or have grant funding. Still, I'd love to be able to use summers to get new research projects started, finish old projects, revise papers (something I'm struggling with right now), write proposals, even develop new course plans and assignments.

I've never been a fan of going to my campus office in the summer. Parking is usually a nightmare with summer orientation or construction going on- and I have everything I need to work here at home: multiple computers, software, VPN, printers, high speed internet, climate control***, snacks, I can work in my pajamas if I want to... But the problem is staying focused. I've tried making schedules (daily, weekly, etc.) but something always comes up. Every summer I tell myself it will be different. I'm still determined to revise this paper and get it sent off before classes start, but it seems like I should be able to accomplish more than that.

Anyone have a successful summer plan that works for you? Do I just need to start going to campus? Make more detailed plans and goals? I'm clearly not the only one who struggles with this, but I know other people do have productive summers.

*My daughter goes to a performing arts school an hour away and I've been driving her to and from school every day (4+ hours in the car every school day = 20+ hours per week). She's got one more year (with a different schedule) then she's off to college!
**My husband is also an academic. 
***I have no control over my thermostat at work! HUGE bummer.


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