We are three weeks into the summer break here in Maryland. The first week is always a free-for-all—the teenager stays up all night on Xbox and sleeps until noon, my daughter jumps into multiple baking and craft projects all over the kitchen and dining room, I take some time off work to do whatever I have been putting off until summer. This year, because I was finishing my book in May/June, my catch-up has included a lot of laundry and vacuuming.
Well, that first week bled into the next and now into the third
week of summer, we are still doing the same thing. Lots of Xbox being played, and my daughter’s projects have involved bags and bags of powdered sugar (inspired by Man About Cake – this guy’s cakes are amazing, and she is trying to make them all), so I have switched from regular cleaning to mopping and wiping stickiness off the counters and floors all day. And I have gained five pounds already from the fondant alone.
It’s been fine, but now I have this sad feeling because three weeks are gone, and we are starting camps and vacations and the other scheduled summer plans, and in a flash, school will start again, and consulting projects will pick back up and the summer will be a fuzzy memory and I won’t be quite sure what we actually accomplished.
The answer? Make a plan. Nothing crazy, just a little guide for getting the most we can out of the summer. This mind map is one of the tools I included in the book for creating a larger life plan, but it works really well as a quick way to get your arms around your summer before it is gone. It is also a visual, fun way to get the family involved and engaged in the planning process.
Start with a big, blank sheet of paper and write SUMMER in the middle of the page. I wrote Amazing Summer, because that is what it is going to be, gosh darn it. Then below that, write down your vision for the summer. For me, this vision is a high-level statement of what an Amazing Summer looks like. Think: At the end of the summer, what do you want to have gotten out of this time? Memories? Fun? Projects completed? Time well spent? Rest and relaxation? Don’t overthink it, just write down the first thing that comes to mind. For me, it was “Get a crazy amount of stuff done and have fun with my family”. Vision is important, because every goal you set should, in some way, support and build toward that guiding vision.
Click the image to download a PDF of this template
Next, draw some lines (think spokes coming out of the hub of a wheel) coming out of the box in the middle. At the end of these lines, write a word that captures an area of your life or facet of the summer (or family’s life if you are doing this with the family) that will play an important role in your summer plans. I chose Family, Home, Personal, Work and Health. Others that might work well for the summer are Education/Learning, Travel, Community/Neighborhood, Outdoors, etc.
Now, jot down all the ideas and goals within each of these areas that you want to focus on this summer. Some will be things already on the calendar – for me, I already have a vacation in Florida with my family and a trip to Kentucky to see my parents on the books. I also added in the cake and craft projects and would like to make sure we do a weekly day trip somewhere. I may add a few more to this category, but that is pretty good for now.
For other areas like Health, I put down some doctor’s appointments I have been putting off for way too long and a general exercise goal. Home projects are always hovering, so I chose a few that I thought would be reasonable to complete this summer and have been on the list for a while. I gave in to the crazy electric green color my daughter wanted for her bathroom when she was 7. We both regretted it right away, but that was four years ago, it is time to change that. There are others there that I really don’t want to do, but gosh it would feel good to knock those out this summer.
After filling in the goals for each area, what I usually do next is try to prioritize them a little. If I clearly have too many things to reasonably accomplish in this short few months, I will mark some things off. Along with prioritization, it is helpful to jot down WHEN you think you might want to hit them. For example, repainting a room always takes about five times as long as I think it will, so I need to pick a week when not much else is going on. It may take all week. Others are already on the calendar, so exact dates are easy for those, and still others will just fill in when time is available.
Finally, I jot down some of the choices I need to make to ensure I meet my goals (or at least give myself a fighting chance!). If I have a goal of repainting a bathroom, what are some of the choices I need to make? What color this time (preferably one that does not make her look jaundiced)? What supplies do we need? When will we go pick out and buy the paint? How much time do I need? When will I start?
When thinking about your choices, reflect back to your vision. Along with getting things done, mine is to have fun with my family with summer. The way I go about achieving every goal should reflect that vision. Repainting a bathroom doesn’t sound like a rip-roaring good time, but are there ways I can make support both aspects of my vision – getting stuff done and having fun? Can I engage my daughter in picking out the colors or other design options? Maybe we can have a little girls trip and get lunch when we go buy the supplies. Or maybe we can work on it together and celebrate with ice cream when it is done. It will be the little choices we make along the way that matter!
That’s it! In just a few minutes you can have a plan in hand that helps guide you toward an amazing summer!