Do Something & Nothing at the Same Time

Friday was our last day of school– summer is finally here! (For non-teachers, I understand that you probably have no sympathy for me.)

LakeWhile it’s really nice having the summer off, with the lake and pool calling my name, I often find it very challenging to actually get anything accomplished.

I get a lot done during each day of the school year, but I’m guessing it’s because I have daily pressures and deadlines to meet. In the summer, it’s more important for me to set goals because I have more free time than during the school year when my time is competed for. In order to stay focused, I’ve developed a system that works for me.

You may not have an entire summer of down time, but these tips may be helpful for vacations, long weekends, or extended time off. If your goal is to do nothing and escape from the daily grind, these tips may not help. However, I really enjoy what I do, and I agree with Seth Godin in his book Tribes when he says, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”


5 Ways I Do Something and Nothing at the Same Time:

  • Make a to-do list. Each week I make a daily to-do list. I take my big goals and divide them into manageable tasks. While I may accomplish a few small goals each day, by the end of the week I’ll have made a ton of progress. Plus, setting daily goals helps me manage my big tasks and gives me time to enjoy not working. On Sundays, I schedule “no work” as my goal and this past Sunday I swam all day with my kids. And it felt great. I know that I have a lot to get done this week, but because I budgeted “no work,” it was easy to accomplish. Once Monday rolled around, I hit the ground running.
  • Find a place to work. I’ve learned that I image can’t get anything done at home because I’m too easily distracted, and although going to my empty classroom would give me some time to focus, I’ve found I get more done when I’m around people. The solution? I take my laptop and iPad to Starbuck’s and set up shop. It turns out they also sell coffee, so it’s a win-win!
  • Start early. In the summer, if I’m not careful, I won’t get anything accomplished because I’ll keep saying, “I’ll do it this afternoon.” Knowing this, I start early. Starbuck’s opens at 5:30. I don’t arrive that early, but 6:30 does work for me.
  • Create a routine. If I’m not careful, it’s easy for me to say, “I’ll do that tomorrow” and then nothing ever gets done. Instead, I work from 6:30-12:00 and no later (and usually I finish earlier). Somerset Maugham once said, “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.” Find a time, create a routine, and stick to it.
  • Protect my time. I want to accomplish personal, professional, and family goals– to do all three, I have to protect my time. From waking-up until lunch, that’s time for personal and professional goals. After that, I get to hang out with my family, go on adventures, and have a whole lot of fun. I’m very careful about not mixing the two. Whatever I’m doing, I work to be present and focused.


I don’t know what the next few months will look like for you, but I know what mine look like because I’ll be doing what I love doing every day. It sure doesn’t get any better than that, right?


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