Tips for making the off-season productive

The book is finally done, and summer is approaching. But what should I be doing? Relaxing with an umbrella drink in hand, and my toes in the sand? Well, there’s always time for that. It’s the time to rejuvenate the soul, spend time with family, travel, complete household tasks you’ve been putting off all year.

After advising a few years, it clicked — what if I looked out for myself a bit more? What if I start the next book early? What a concept!

I know an adviser’s job is never done. I know summer is time to do what we can’t during the hectic year. I’m not talking about a huge time commitment. Dedicate a day a week to yearbook planning. Leave the other six to everything else.

First on the list: Renew journalism memberships. While these folks are on your mind, send books off for critiques and contests. If I’m really diligent, I get my editors to help before the break. They also archive files, clean out the office and make sure all yearbooks are picked up (or delivered to those who never seem to get them).

With that, we can focus on the next book. During the last month of school, my staffers work in groups to develop a packet with a theme concept, design inspiration, fonts and organization which they present to the new editors as a final project. In theory, the editors pick a theme we can fully develop during the summer. Oh, if things always went that smoothly…

My new editors step into their roles and plan weekly summer meetings. We reflect on the year and make changes to our workflow, plan our ladder and deadlines, and talk about our summer adventures. The most important meeting is when we take our newly printed class list and build our teams. It is not unlike the NFL draft.

These summer meetings help the new leadership bond over frozen coffee as they discuss new traditions they want to bring to the journalism lab. Although this is my coveted summer downtime, I look forward to these meetings because I actually miss my students when I don’t see them daily.

Attending our local workshop is the most important summer staff activity. We put finishing touches on the theme, or ditch it and start over. Late work nights and the inevitable shenanigans aren’t my favorite part of the workshop adventure, but the staff bonding and the memories make it invaluable.

I also make time with area advisers. Precious moments with my Colorado cohorts allow us to catch up on successes and woes. Somehow talk always comes to, “Can you share your (insert great journalism idea here) to make my life easier this fall?”

My absolute ride-or-die is Justin Daigle from Brighton. We met 10 years ago, and I’ve found there’s nothing better in an adviser’s toolbox than a sidekick who loves journalism and advising as much as you do.

Before I realize it, back-to-school time arrives. My editors hold final meetings with team leaders to plan the first two weeks of staff training. The editors are prepared for a stress-free start to their school year.

Carrie Hendrix, CJE

Lewis-Palmer High School | Monument, Colorado

It’s a yearbook thang

Catch our convo with Carrie Hendrix and her ride-or-die Justin Daigle on the Mind the Gutter podcast.