Free Up Your Mental Energy by Making This Summer a Season of Completion

It doesn’t matter where you grew up in the United States, or even when — just about everyone I know at some point had to write an essay or give a presentation about their summer vacation at the onset of the new school year.

For me, that always involved two highlights — a road trip somewhere in the Southeast in our family club wagon, where dad would pack food from the family delicatessen for us to eat at rest areas (the potato salad did look a little iffy despite ice packs in the cooler) and the chance to go all-in on my love of reading while devouring as many library books as possible. In my adult life, summer eventually became about nicer vacations and trying to make the most of the extra daylight hours.

Now this year, I’m doing something different — my goal is to have a summer of completion.

Let me explain what I mean. Despite our best efforts, there are always tasks we never get around to doing — things like repairing the gurgling guest room toilet, learning a new software program that enhances your job, or visiting the dentist for a teeth cleaning. None of those activities are going to make or break your effectiveness, but there’s a little placeholder for each in your thoughts that is taking up space. During my summer of completion, I’m methodically going to get that stuff done and off my mental occupancy list. Because then I’ll free myself up for more energy, creative thinking, and new, fun projects. Thought I’d share the process with you in case you’d like to join me.

Here are 4 ways to have your own summer of completion:

1. Make a list of things you need to tackle.

For example, I backed my car out of the garage two years ago in a hurry when we were trying to sell our old house and scraped up the left side passenger door. Don’t bother with the bad driver jokes, I’ve heard them all. But before you write SLACKER is all caps in the comments section due to the time lag, I’ll note that the damage was minimal. Between being slammed at work, my book launch, and not being particularly excited about paying for a repair out of pocket, I never got around to fixing it. But you know what? I kind of feel like my car is giving me the side eye because it feels neglected. So rather than wait until I’m ready to sell the vehicle to repair it, I’m biting the bullet now and getting it done.

2. Calendarize it.

Rather than vaguely thinking of next steps, I am placing each action on my calendar. Tomorrow morning I’m getting my third collision repair quote from a nearby shop and booked the time to stop in right after an early morning workout. Putting everything I’m trying to accomplish this summer on my schedule is essential to making sure it happens. Each week I’m also booking items for my well-being, like doctor appointments, taking our puppy in for her final round of shots, having lunch with people I like but never get to see, and more.

3. Focus on the benefits.

Completing each item is going to free up the energy I spent on avoiding, regretting, or ignoring it — and that gives me the freedom to contemplate new stuff that makes my heart sing. I got peace of mind from a normal bone density scan. Each time I see the dentist, it means that the never-ending Invisalign I’m sporting in my mouth is one week closer to completion. Consider how you will feel when you are able to tie up the items on your list and use that motivation to get it done now.

4. Celebrate each completed task.

Rather than move forward quickly to the next task requiring completion, savor the win. Appreciate how much better you feel, the peace of mind accomplished,  the new skills learned, and the extra mental space that you now have from taking the time to complete it. This is a real #victory, right?

I plan to follow-up in a few months and let you know the results of my summer of completion.

Meanwhile, what neglected task, appointment or project would you like to complete over the next few months? How did you feel when you last accomplished something positive for your well-being at work or at home?

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