As you might have guessed by the long bout of silence, I’m roughly a month into my summer break. Summer break is a weird thing. People outside of academia imagine you on an extended vacation, and yet it’s too easy to occupy all of your time with research and service tasks that you neglecting during the academic year. It’s also always shorter than you imagine, often leaving you insufficient time to accomplish all that you hoped. In the past I’ve tried to use it as a way to disconnect from the usual routine, even if I was working frequently.

In my continuing reflection on summer break I’ve discovered something I didn’t know before but wish I had. I agreed this year to work with several students on a summer research project. This involves regular meetings, and some of those meetings are taking place in person at the downtown campus. Initially this had me a bit cranky since I usually take the opportunity to completely abandon my downtown office during the summer in order to disconnect and relax. What I’m discovering is that the structure of a weekly downtown meeting is actually more relaxing than complete avoidance of the campus. Some things are more easily handled in person, so all of those get scheduled for that day during the week. I also take advantage of being out of the house to do errands on the way to and from work. The rest of the week I focus on the things better done at home, like writing. That the meeting and errand day is typically Monday also focuses me early in the week, and that focus carries through to the rest of the week.

Now I can’t decide if I’m frustrated that it took me more than 15 years to discover this or happy that I’ve stumbled onto something unexpected. It’s probably a little bit of both.