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Easy Steps to Clear Your Schedule for a Guilt-Free Summer

A woman writing in a paper planner.
Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com

We all have lots of small tasks on our to-do lists that, while not urgent, are still important. Unfortunately, they’re all too easy to ignore for weeks on end. But now’s the time to take action and clear that schedule, so you can enjoy the rest of your summer guilt-free.

It doesn’t take long for small tasks to pile up and become a big heap. For you, these might include dropping off your dry cleaning, replying to emails, or taking old clothes to the thrift store.

These all need to get done eventually, of course, as do other responsibilities related to work and everyday life. But taking care of mundane tasks is likely not the way you want to spend the remaining long days of summer.

But how can you free up your schedule? Well, you can actually attack that to-do list the same way you would cleaning your home. Then, nothing will come between you and the summer sun.

Schedule One Task Per Week & Let the Rest Go

One reason the small, non-urgent items on your agenda can feel so large is that there are so many of them. If you feel daunted by the sheer amount of things you need to do, it’s time to organize them into a reasonable schedule.

Getting one mundane, yet necessary, task done each week is a great way to free up the rest of your schedule for fun. Spreading things out in this way allows you to accomplish them without getting exhausted.

Are all of your tasks equally important? Probably not. Take a careful look at your schedule and see what you can cut out completely to make room for summer plans.

Decluttering a schedule will be different for everyone. For example, maybe you’ve been spending hours each day going through your email inbox. This might be a good time to start clicking that “Unsubscribe” button.

If you can, try delegating tasks to others in your household. Maybe your partner or teenager could drop the donations off at the thrift store. Or, if you’ve been picking up some side gigs for spare cash, maybe you can afford to let one go for the rest of the summer.

No matter what your schedule looks like, take an inventory, and let go of any tasks that can wait. The last thing you want to be doing is spending your remaining summer days and nights on activities that aren’t meaningful or necessary.

Shorten Your Daily Lists & Add Free Time

A father and son jumping in a lake.
Zoran Zeremski/Shutterstock.com

Of course, life doesn’t stop just because it’s summer. You’ll still need to get a certain number of things done each day. However, you don’t want to be putting in a 12-hour day of work followed by household chores when the beach is calling your name. That’s where short, sweet daily to-do lists can really come in handy.

Every day, focus your to-do list on just three things you definitely need to get done. Sure, there might be other things you’d like to get done, but make those three items the essentials. If you accomplish at least those three things on a summer day, you can spend the rest of it having fun with no guilt.

Plus, you’ll be surprised at how much progress you can make doing just three main tasks every day.

Another thing you can do is actually add your free time to your schedule. It’s all too easy to take on projects and activities you don’t really want to do when your schedule is open. However, if you actually add your free time to it, you won’t be as tempted to give it up.

Scheduling free time to spend doing activities you enjoy, or just indulging in some self-care, is an excellent habit to get into. It also helps you prioritize it.

Keep in mind that adding “white space” to a calendar is a strategy business leaders and entrepreneurs use to be more productive. Even if you’re not running a business, you’ll still reap the benefits that come with free time, like reduced stress and increased creativity.

Give Up the Multitasking

Wondering why it takes you so long to get simple things done? Multitasking might be to blame.

When you switch between tasks frequently, it might feel like you’re getting more done, but, in reality, our brains are only primed to do one thing at a time.

Multitasking might feel more efficient, but it actually makes you worse at accomplishing tasks. This is because our brains are designed to concentrate on one task at a time. When we force it to focus on multiple things simultaneously, it causes stress, which results in those tasks taking longer to accomplish.

So, this summer, try to focus on just one thing at a time. You’ll probably be surprised at how much easier this makes it for you to knock out even more work than usual before heading out for some summer fun.

Switch to a Paper Planner

Maalbok 2021-22 planners in gray, green, and pink.
Maalbok

If you’ve been mapping out your schedule on apps, you’re probably facing incoming distractions every time you check your schedule.

Can you really ignore the messages, emails, and reminders that pop up whenever you look at your calendar app? Probably not.

That’s where a paper day planner can really help you out. It allows you to adjust and update your schedule with no distractions. It also enables you to put your phone away and quit multitasking, so you can get things done much faster.

We like this 2021-22 planner from Maalbok. It has a spiral binding, with weekly spreads that allow you just enough room to plan your three daily tasks, then scribble “Free time” for the rest of each day.


In the digital age, it’s all too easy to stay plugged in to work and responsibilities nonstop. But there’s no better excuse than the approaching end of summer to wind down and focus on just the essentials, so you can actually have some fun.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »

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