What Now?

Suzanne DaileyBlog, Reflect Better, Teach Happier


  • Over the summer, it is common for educators to want to relax while avoiding wasting time.
  • Inspired by author Ann Patchett, you can ask two questions: “What Now?” and “What Not Now?” to prioritize activities and commitments.
  • Spending time with loved ones, reading, decluttering, and avoiding excessive social media use are good ways to spend your time.
  • Reflect on daily activities to find joy and incorporate it into future routines.

What Now?

Here we are in July, the Saturday of summer. Some of us have been out of school for a few weeks, and the rest of us are still in that time of awe: we actually have time in front of us where we can sit down when we want, use the bathroom when we need, run an errand during the daylight hours without checking the clock and worrying, will I be able to get this done AND my kid to [insert work or sport commitment here] on time?

This time and space are so well-deserved and downright glorious. But in these first few weeks, it takes me a while to shift down because I just exited another school year that moved 300 mph. On one hand, I want to relax and do n-o-t-h-i-n-g. But on the other hand, I don’t want to waste a moment of freedom with too much nothingness. This self-imposed pressure is absurd, but I think it’s real for many of us as educators.

July feels so wonderfully uniquely odd because it’s one of the only times when we get to make decisions solely for ourselves and our families. Most of us have lived within the confines of school calendar since kindergarten. As we do the math (38 years for me!) it’s easy to see why this can be a weird time of recombobulation.

July feels so wonderfully uniquely odd because it’s one of the only times when we get to make decisions solely for ourselves and our families. Click To Tweet

Reflect & Recombobulate

Like many of you, I want to experience a calm, meaningful, memorable, restorative summer. In an effort to do that, I consider the time in these next 2 months and ask 2 broad questions inspired by author Ann Patchett:

Those two questions are:

  • What now?
  • What not now?

In other words, with this gift of time, what do I want to prioritize doing and what do I want to prioritize not doing?

I’ve considered this and will share my initial ideas in the event it could help you create your list:

What Now?

What Not Now?

·       Starting the day with coffee on the porch

·       Time outside throughout the day

·       Time unplugged

·       Prioritized time with beloved family and friends I can’t see much during the school year (so I need to say no to things so I can say yes to them)

·       Reading. Lots of reading.

·       Weeknight campfires

·       Concerts (with tailgating!)

·       Reorganize/declutter a few spaces in my home

·       Indulge in shows I’ve added to my list this past school year

·       Prioritized time for health; appointments and exercise

·       Facebook (annual Facebook Fast started June 6th this year!)


·       Excessive email/text checking and immediate responding


·       Doing things for my kids they can do for themselves


·       Overscheduling the days (leaving pockets of time for nothing)

This list serves me now, as it helps prioritize my time this summer. It will also serve me later, as it shows what I may want to incorporate in my life when we’re back at it in September. Maybe I will find a healthier routine for responding to texts/emails. Or perhaps I will unplug earlier at night so I can read a little more. Once I see how these lists contribute to my overall sense of happiness, I can consider prioritizing some of these things to help my head and heart when life gets busier with the cadence of a new school calendar.

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Level Up Your List

If you like the idea of a list and want to take this idea one step further, teacher Bryan Zevotek (@ClassKicker) invites us to pause after one of our wonderful summer days and think about 3 things:

  • What did I do today that made it amazing?
  • What gave me life, energy, and joy?
  • How can I do more of that tomorrow?

As we usher in July and turn unhurried minutes into memorable moments, let’s try to reflect to see why those moments occur. Maybe it helps by making a list like the ones shared above; or maybe it’s simply pausing a bit longer to reflect on the good stuff that is helping your head, heart, and spirit. This kind of reflection helps us pay attention to how we are filling our minutes, hours, days, weeks, and ultimately, our summer.

As Kate Bowler recently shared on her Instagram feed, “Put yourself where love and beauty can reach you. That’s the summer for you.”

Let’s spend our time doing things that will get us closer to love and beauty.

Let’s start now.

Small Shifts, BIG Gifts!

Give it a try! Make a 2-column list that prioritizes the things you want to do this summer and the things you don’t want to do this summer. This may help you discern your next right thing this summer.


About Suzanne Dailey

Suzanne Dailey is a proud member of the Teach Better Family! She is an instructional coach in the Central Bucks School District where she has the honor and joy of working with elementary teachers and students in 15 buildings. Suzanne is Nationally Board Certified, a Fellow of the National Writing Project, and has a master’s degree in Reading. She is dedicated to nurturing and developing the whole child and teacher. Suzanne lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.

Check out the Teach Happier Podcast here!