My daughter is home.

All of my exams and papers are graded and final grades have been turned in.

It must be summer vacation! Let the list-making commence!

Truth be told, I start making summer lists long before the last paper is graded. Two weeks ago (when I should have been grading papers), I sat down with the various incarnations of notes to myself that I've been tucking into notebooks and calendars and began organizing them.

  • My Big 3 for that day. (Okay, it was more of a Big 5 because I couldn't decide.)
  • My list for the weekend/week ahead, to be broken into smaller pieces as the week wore on.
  • My summer lists: overall goals, books to read, movies to watch. Projects.

These lists hold a different kind of promise than my standard to-do lists. Biased more toward what I want to do than what I have to to, they're the scaffolding for not only my summer, but the second half of my year. As such, they provide a flexible structure suited to the season, but still leave room for opportunity. A day (or weekend) trip. An evening out. Some fun event that I don't even know about yet.


So, why make lists at all?

Because they hold a combination of promises made, things I've been longing to do and opportunities to explore -- all the things I don't get the chance to do during the year while I am teaching and life is busy and scheduled. As such, they are the counterbalance to the school year. The other side of the coin. The "what I want to be when I grow up" activities.

Just writing them down is both useful and enticing. For me, making lists sets things in motion; once I've written something down, it lingers in the back of my mind, keeping me alert for opportunities that are relevant to the things I want to accomplish.

My Saturday morning list-making endeavor did just that, but I still felt a bit scattered. Consequently, I spent the rest of the week looking for a time to sit down and think beyond the lists. I'd come up with a plan to combine my love of notebooks with my need for lists and I couldn't wait to put it into action. I came close a few times, gathering the materials I needed, but mostly, I just collected supplies and got more frustrated as the time to sit down and thoughtfully prepare continued to elude me.

Finally, last Friday night, I succeeded.

It was a simple idea, really.

  • Press a pocket-sized journal into service as a place to store all of these thoughts.
  • Divide it into sections, using Post-it flags.
  • Jot list items in the section where they belong.

"STYLE Savvy: Setting up for summer" by Lisa Hess ( Copyright 2017 Lisa Hess. All rights reserved.

Having everything in one place makes me feel less scattered, and categories like "TED Talks" remind me to think beyond the daily to-dos to make room for the wanna dos. There's plenty of room to expand and add categories (I already had "to read" and "to watch" lists in a different notebook, and I suspect they'll get their own tabs soon) as well as room at the back for planning beyond the summer months.

While I was at it, I did a mid-year goals review. But that's another post.

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How about you? What do your summer lists look like?

Copyright 2017 Lisa Hess