By: Mary Fran Bontempo

This column first appeared last August in Women’s Voices Magazine. After recently marrying off two children, helping both move into new houses and helping another daughter move back from Florida, nothing is pretty much all I want to do right now. Read on for more….

Beach Chairs Watching Ocean ca. 2000 Mississippi, USA

So, I belong to this women’s networking group that is full of wonderful women whom I love. They’re smart, accomplished and ambitious.

Which is kind of the problem.

It’s July. July.

Around Philadelphia, that means hot, sweaty, sticky summer weather. Exactly the kind of weather that makes me want to get things done. Or not, “not” being the operative word.

Yet, it seems not everyone feels the same way.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from the founder of the networking group (who shall remain nameless for her own protection) extolling the virtues of summer and the need to kick back and recharge. At least, that’s how the email started. It quickly devolved (opinion, here) into a call to choose one (“or two or three”) projects to “bust out over the summer.” Jamie (Oops!) then proceeded to list the projects she intended to master by summer’s end, and…well, read for yourself:

I’m back! How great is vacation? I encourage everyone to take some time to recharge your batteries (so important to prevent burnout) Afterwards, pick a big project or two (or three) that you can bust out over the summer. Personally, I will be focused on changing office systems to reduce expenses, improving the website navigation and making design changes, implementing the dues increase, planning the anniversary party, working with our conference speakers to ensure we deliver an amazing experience to attendees, launching a membership campaign for the fall, creating consulting packages and continuing to grow my network of resources which I will, of course, share with you. What improvements will help your business or nonprofit organization?

Needless to say, Jamie is high energy, which is good, especially if your job is to inspire others. But, and far be it from me to criticize here, especially given that math isn’t my forte, that looks more like nine projects to me.

I’m not gonna lie; I kind of wanted to hurt her.

Being a good little soldier, however, I dutifully compiled my “to do” list:

1. Finish writing third book
2. Finalize artwork on book
3. Submit book for publication
4. Finalize and approve book layout for printing
5. Update blog and website
6. Re-work and update speaking presentations
7. Research webinar platforms
8. Finish work on new webinar
9. Complete and execute updated marketing plan

Then, we have a first grandchild arriving soon, plus two weddings in the next year, so there was this:

10. Remove 29 years of junk from David’s bedroom
11. Steam clean bedroom rug
12. Paint bedroom
13. Purchase and hang new curtains
14. Get crib from attic and assemble in bedroom
15. Make sure crib is safe according to new standards, which it probably isn’t despite the fact that I raised three children in it
16. Throw out crib and purchase new one
17. Repeat assembly portion of number 14
18. Repair and repaint back deck
19. Repaint hallway
20. Replace carpet on stairs

I could have gone on, but I stopped there. I wanted to keep things realistic.

So far, this is what I’ve accomplished:

1. Wrote six pages in third book

In my defense (yes, I do feel it necessary to mount one—see guilt-inducing reference to smart, accomplished, ambitious women in paragraph one) I’m blessed to be able to escape Philly weather and head to the Jersey Shore, where we’ve owned a tiny shore cottage for 25 years.

Bought when we had no business buying it—two young children, expecting a third, and a big, fat mortgage on a primary home—we took the plunge and never looked back. And I do mean never. As in, for years, when my kids were working summer jobs at the shore, we’d arrive mid-May and only leave officially after Labor Day. (Often, when I returned “home” in the fall, I’d actually forget where stuff was in my kitchen.)

It’s the primary reason I get not much of anything done during the summer. It’s also the primary reason I get stuff done during the other nine months of the year.

Summers are for relaxing. Period. They are for eating junk food, sitting and staring into space, or into the ocean, if you’re so lucky. And for no guilt when you indulge in the sitting and staring—that’s essential.

The beauty of it is that you don’t need to be at the beach to reap summer’s restful bounty. Wherever you happen to be this July, by all means, make your busy lady, “look-at-me-go” list. Fill it up with as much stuff as you can think of.

But here’s the catch: Start writing your list at number two. When you’re through writing, return to number one and write the following: “DO NOT DO ANY OF THIS CRAP UNTIL SEPTEMBER.”

Then, pour yourself a glass of iced tea, say a prayer that your networking friends will eventually let you back into the club, find a comfy chair and DO NOTHING.

After all, it’s July.