September in academia: blissful fall vibes or down to hard time after summer?

September has finally arrived. And with it, also cosy fall vibes? Unfortunately not. The North of Italy is still quite hot at the moment. And my to-do list is growing dizzyingly.

A backpack, a laptop, fall leaves, are academia vibes
Photo by Polina Kovaleva on

Vacations are definitely gone and work time has started again, hitting me quite strongly.

This year I feel totally depleted. The summer season was not able to support a complete recovery on me. Why? I guess the reason has partially the name of my very young daughter (but don’t tell her, please)! It is wonderful to have a 2 years old toddler running everywhere and no real time to rest except when she is asleep!

I feel blessed every day for having her but let’s stay true: it is energetic and exhausting at the same time.

This feeling made me think: holidays are really vacation time or just a false myth? Scrolling down my friend’s Facebook and Instagram I was able to see wonderful images of seasides, countrysides, museums, art installations, and creatively decorated homes even. Most of these people wrote something like: “so relaxing”, “so interesting” and so on. It was just me who was just not able to enjoy summertime or all this is just fake? Or even, do you need to be a specific type of person to enjoy this time? White, rich, with no kids, for example?

Most time during the summer, I had to force myself to not check emails. A few of the same friends with loving vacation images just continued sending work emails, I know. Is this right?

I don’t think so. I may be someone really attached to her work, but I absolutely forbid myself to send work emails during vacations. Urgency is just a perception in my opinion when you do research and teaching as the main job task.

I don’t have answers to my previous questions, just thoughts in mind. Just a sense of unfairness.

Let’s become active and try to go out from this feeling. What I can do now, that I have to restart anyway? What works for me, being a researcher in academia?

Photo by cottonbro on

#1 Write, write, write

Just write down whatever comes into your mind. It is incredible how things can become more clear just while writing. For me, it is like freeing space in my brain. You do not need anything special for this: just you, a pen and a piece of paper.

#2 A new agenda, new papers, new pens

Consumerism cannot be the solution, but sometimes just buying a new thing have a high impact on me. You know… positive hormones are released while shopping. For me, as I struggle with budgets, just buying a new book, a new agenda (even cheap ones), or a new pen is enough. You can then use those stationery products for point one, no?

For example, I recently bought a new journal for book recording. I will probably show it in a future post. Let me know if this interests you!

#3 A selection of luxury teas

This is awesome! Teas, looking outside the windows, just taking a 30-minute break from my to-do list is so healing, that I should do it more often. I recently purchased some luxury teas in London, on the occasion of a staff-visiting Erasmus exchange and it is sooooo good. Really wonderful.

A selection of teas I bought recently in London. This is one of my best tips for healing while down.
A selection of luxury teas I bought recently in London

#4 Review and reset your academic goals and objectives

Engage in a review and reset morning/afternoon or even an entire day. Online you can find several resources for this. I personally recommend checking people (they are quite famous now, but still provide incredible content) such as August Bradley or Mel Robbins.

I may talk about my method in the future but, in short, I write down everything in my mind in a journal (a bullet journal or simple piece of paper works the same). Then I categorize them per category -like thoughts, tasks that I need to do, etc. I check off all the things that I can let go out of my life and of my mind, everything that I can delegate or whatever is not in my power to change. The elements that remain are put on my agenda to be processed.

Simple? Not always, especially when my mind is more full of thoughts than of tasks. But this method still helps me to clarify a bit.

#5 Brainstorm about a new project that you are passionate about (it can stay secret also to your supervisor!)

The last piece of advice is probably my favourite one: think about doing something that is passionate for you. I personally try to select a secret project for my career development: this can be reading a book about academic writing or even writing a book about academic life, considering applying to an outstanding funding scheme, or considering writing a scientific paper or a review on a subject that is not your major one. For me, this is true power! It creates so much excitement in me, that usually I go back to work with the idea that I have to finish my main tasks as soon as the quality is good to have the chance to work on my secret project.

Want a very last piece of advice? Keep it secret.

Photo by Ron Lach on

And you, what are your bits of advice to restart after the summer break? Let me know, I would really love to read your comment below.


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