Beat Summer Boredom: 5 Productive Ways to Use Your Free Time
Throughout the semester, it may seem like you are constantly going, going, going without a chance to even take a breath. Balancing classes, work, clubs, a social life, and hopefully sleep can seem like an impossible task. That’s why, when summer finally rolls around, it’s tempting to just take a long break and do nothing for 2 ½ months.
And while a relaxing break is very well deserved- let’s be realistic. Sitting around doing nothing for almost 3 months is not only going to end up being a waste of time, it’s also just going to get plain boring after a while.
Have no fear! There are many ways to not let your summer go to waste, while still allowing yourself to have the much-needed free time to relax away the constant stress of the school year. The key is to find a nice balance between these more calming, fun activities and some productive things you can do to stay on top of your goals.
Turns out you can enjoy your time off while also finding ways to boost your resume, save a few bucks, impact your community, or even travel! Check out these 5 great ways to not let your summer go to waste.
Get a Job
A summer job can be a great way to spend some of your extra time. Taking on a part-time role can allow you to have time to spend relaxing with your friends, while still giving you something to do with your day. And, of course, the obvious benefit is the extra income. Think about it, having a way to make a little extra cash during the day can actually mean having the money to do more with your friends.
Sure, you may not wake up ecstatic to go to work each day, but a job doesn’t have to be all bad. The summer after my freshman year, I worked part-time as a pool waitress and “cart girl” at a golf course. I was surrounded by other people my age, got to spend my days outside, earned some extra money, and even made some new friends out of it. Did I mention the nice sun tan I also got out it? Bonus!
Take Summer Classes
I know what you’re probably thinking- why would I spend my break, the time I get to actually be away from classes…in class? But summer courses can actually be a great way to help you get ahead. And most of the time, these classes are less intense than those you take during regular semesters.
For example, instead of taking on the full 12-17 hour load you normally do, you can take just one or two classes. And many of the choices offered are online, meaning you can work during your own time, at your own pace.
It’s even a good chance to get out of the classroom. Take your laptop to a coffee shop, settle in for a few hours, work through a chapter or two, and knock out the work. That doesn’t sound too stressful and demanding, right?
However, it’s important to note that taking classes during the summer, especially if they are self-paced, does require taking a little bit of responsibility for yourself to get things done. But hey, just think of it as character building (another way you’re not letting your summer go to waste!).
Volunteer in the Community
The number one thing that most non-profit companies are consistently looking for is volunteer time. And chances are you’ll have a little extra of that during the summer months. So why not use it as a chance to give back and make a difference in your community?
There are endless ways you can make an impact on the people, animals, or even the environment in your community. Try checking out opportunities at local retirement homes or children’s’ day camps. There are usually a wide range of activities to get involved in at places like this.
Many retirement homes are simply looking for a few extra people to visit the residents and spend time with them. I volunteered occasionally at a retirement home while in high school, and helped set up different social activities there. The same idea goes for kids day camps- simple things like helping to organize games, activities, and meals is a lot of what the staff is looking for help with.
Or, if you’re an animal lover like me, go to your local shelter and find out what they need help with. In addition to these options, there are also many groups dedicated to keeping the Earth clean and beautiful. Plus you get a chance to spend some time outdoors. One such organization, Nature Conservancy, offers volunteer options for all ages in almost every state! The activities range from planting trees and tending to butterfly gardens, to research projects and organizing community events.
Take a Trip
Of course, if you have the option to take a luxurious beach vacation, jump on that opportunity! I know for many college students though, that’s not exactly a likely option. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be stuck at home for the entire summer. There are several ways to get out of town without having to break the bank.
For instance, try organizing a road trip with your friends. I’ve been on quite a few long road trips with my friends, and that time in the car is where we have made some of our best memories.
These are a perfect way get away from your everyday surroundings for a little while and just enjoy having fun with your friends. Go somewhere with cool museums, somewhere near a beach, or even just a small town nearby for some lunch, shopping, and fun photo-ops. You don’t have to be anywhere extravagant to have a nice time.
Putting a road trip together is pretty easy. Just choose a viable destination, decide who’s car to use, and get going. My friends and I tend to pick out places where we’re likely to have a free, or at least cheap, place to stay. This helps us offset some of the other costs, like gas.
Maybe your friends have family that live in a cool town nearby, or there’s a Groupon for a hotel at a decent price that you all can split. There is almost always some sort of affordable option to take a weekend trip.
Teach Yourself Something New
What is that one thing you’ve always wanted to learn how to do, that you never seem to have time for? For me, it’s learning how to play guitar. I’ve had family members teach themselves from videos and books, and I’ve always wanted to give it a try myself. But I just never seem to have the time.
Summer is a great time for something like this. Fewer responsibilities and distractions means more time to focus on learning that thing you’ve always wanted to learn. Maybe you want to learn drawing/painting techniques, begin learning a new language, or even just learn a new cooking skill in the kitchen. It could be anything that you’ve always had in the back of your head, but pushed behind your other priorities you needed to focus on.
Teaching most things to yourself can be pretty easy these days, with how-to tutorials for basically anything on the internet, along with self-help books. The internet has a million tips, recipes, and blog posts to explain things step-by-step. So use your extra summer vacation time to finally do that thing, learn that skill, or perfect that dish.
Summer is great for kicking back, relaxing, and ridding ourselves of all of that pent up stress from the semester. But all of that extra free time can lead to boredom. These five ideas are great ways ways to make sure your summer doesn’t go to waste.