For the lucky few who have extra leisure time this summer, I thought I’d put together some suggestions for productive and fun activities that will help enhance your personal, academic and/or professional life. Some of these suggestions are addressed as if to young people (students, adolescents, etc.) but can also apply to grown-ups.
My suggestions are divided into the following subsections:
- Summer Hobbies – activities with lasting benefits and meaning
- Summer Studies – develop skills that will be useful in life
- Summer To-Do’s – a few ways to get your life or home in order
- Summer Fitness – ways to keep cool and stay fit
- Summer Pet Bonding – make your pet happy and you healthy
Here are some ideas for catching up on tasks that may have been neglected during the year.
- Write in your journal
Write about your past year, what’s on your mind, who and what you like and dislike, your daydreams, anything. In future years you will be glad you did it and also amused by your younger self. You think you will always remember what happened when, but as time goes by, memories do fade and become forgotten. (Trust me, I’m speaking from experience and I’m not yet 30 and have a memory better than most.)
- Make a family video
Go around the house and take a video of your family going about its regular business. You will be glad for the memories one day.
Organize family photos, report cards, birthday cards, artwork, concert programs and other keepsakes from the past year into a scrapbook.
Reading (even fun fiction) can help improve your mind, vocabulary, grammar and writing skills. If you go to the library, you can read in an air-conditioned environment without having to pay for the air-conditioning or the books.
Yes, summer should be fun, but there’s no reason it can’t be both fun and productive.
- Learn a new language
The benefits of learning languages are endless. Learning a new language can help you to:
- Get ahead in your career
- Make new friends from different parts of the world. When you show an interest in someone’s language or culture, they are often appreciative and take an interest in you in return.
- Improve your English (or first language)
- Learn to play a musical instrument
Music enhances the mind in many ways. Studies have shown that children who study music at an early age do better in school than those who don’t. Aside from that, it is also just plain fun.
- Learn to sew
Sewing is a very useful skill to have regardless of your gender. You can learn to mend clothes, make your own clothes and other things for your house, which can save you a lot of money. Older and more skilled children can even make their own clothes for the coming school year. Check out one of our earlier articles for more info: Save Money by Sewing Your Own Clothes.
- Take a computer class
Learn to type properly, use a spreadsheet or database, design websites, make presentations, etc. Most jobs these days involve computer use, so knowing as much as you can about computers might help you get a higher salary.
A few suggestions for improving life at home and getting ahead on the coming year.
- Get a head start on your Christmas shopping
This could save you time and money because you can shop at your leisure and take advantage of summer sales. Leaving your shopping to the last minute usually costs more because you are up against a deadline and usually have fewer options.
- Sort through your stuff
Go through your clothes and things and prune out those you no longer want or need. You could donate the things you no longer need or hold a garage or yard sale and make some money to put into your college or retirement savings.
- Re-arrange your room or home
Re-arranging your room or home can have a positive impact on your life. A change can be uplifting and produce an overall feeling of well-being and accomplishment, renew your energy and increase productivity.
- Clean out your computer
Ideally you would do this several times a year, but if you use the internet and download a lot of things, it’s a good idea to clean out your computer on a regular basis. If there are programs you don’t use, uninstall them. If there are files that you no longer need, delete them. Clean your registry if you’ve had the computer for a while. Keeping your hard drive from getting too full will extend its life.
A few suggestions for staying cool and healthy this summer.
- Mall Walking
Walking in an indoor, air-conditioned mall is a great way to get exercise away from the heat and smog, and you can also save on sunscreen. You can even window-shop during your walks, but if you think you might get too tempted, leave your money and credit card at home.
- Swimming in an indoor pool
Swimming is another low-impact exercise (safer than running) which increases endurance, muscle and cardiovascular strength. Try to swim in an indoor pool whenever possible or wait until early evening to avoid sunburn.
- Ice Skating
Not only does it let you get away from the heat, but it’s a good low-impact and aerobic exercise which will help strengthen your bones and cardiovascular system. Taking some lessons and learning to skate properly can be worth the money.
Summer Pet Bonding
If you have a pet, spend some quality time together. Not only will you make your pet very happy, he/she will help make you healthier. (How Pets Help People)
- Take your dog to obedience school
Obedience school is good for socializing and teaching discipline. There is nothing wrong with repeating obedience school for fun and refreshing both your memories.
- Teach your dog new tricks
There are lots of fun tricks you can teach your dog: beg, spin (in both directions), roll, speak, catch a ball or frisbee, etc. You can also teach your dog to be helpful around the house: closing the door or brining you something you dropped. Dogs enjoy feeling helpful and learning new things can keep mature dogs’ minds sharp.
- Take your dog for long evening strolls or hikes
If going hiking, be sure to take another person along, bring lots of water and plastic bags, and make sure your dog’s feet are protected from rough terrain. For your dog’s and other hikers’ safety, never let him off-leash on a hiking trail.
- Enter your dog in a 4th of July costume contest
Make a fun costume for your dog and enter a costume contest or parade.
Well, I hope some of these suggestions prove helpful in making your summer both fun and productive. Vas-y t’amuser!