The start of the fall quarter is still more than three weeks away (I hear that groan semester-based academics, and I feel exactly the same way every May when you’re talking about your final exams and I’m six weeks away from summer break), but now feels like a good time to reflect on what I learned this summer:

  • I treasure unstructured time above all else. Yes, having some structure does help me to stay organized, but both in my work and personal life there is absolutely nothing better than a day without a single plan or required to-do. I’m going to aim to have more of these days in my life.
  • Structured time doesn’t have to be stressful. I usually resist coming downtown during the summer, but thanks to a project with some students I had to show up quite a bit. And it wasn’t terrible or stressful. The key is simply to make sure that you have a reasonable to-do list on days when you have lots of meetings, a lesson I hope to carry forward into the academic year.
  • Conferences where you don’t have a million things to do are more fun. At ITiCSE I was in a working group and had to present a paper. At ICER I helped with talk practice, but I was otherwise not involved in the presentation. And I left ICER feeling more relaxed than I had ITiCSE. I think at least one conferences every year needs to be about hearing what other people have to say and less about trying to present my own work.
  • Staying home during the summer is the best of all. Unlike last summer I had four full weeks when I wasn’t traveling. I loved it. Chicago is a gorgeous city. I love my family. I’m productive when I work at home. I’m going to try to remember this one above all others when planning future summers.

My summer wasn’t as stressful or busy as last year, but there is definitely more room for improvement. I think it’s fair to say that my summers are a work-in-progress.