With the warmer temperatures, many of us are distracted - daydreaming of vacation, spending time outside and enjoying time with friends and family. Often, this can lead to attendance drops (by as much as 19%), longer lunch hours and increased work completion turnaround time. Those who are working from home have the added challenge of keeping school-aged kids occupied while simultaneously trying to fulfill work obligations. Studies suggest that productivity drops on average by as much as 20% in the summer, but there are things you can do to curtail the summer slump and stay motivated while managing a healthy work/life balance.
Whether a self-employed business owner, a professional or an employee, here are eight ways to maintain your productivity while still enjoying all that summer has to offer:
Stick to a schedule.
It’s important to carve out time for work and time for everything else, like time for play, lunch, breaks and personal time. If you are working from home, be sure to involve the kids when creating the schedule to help them understand time boundaries. Creating a schedule will help you structure your day. Plus, when the kids know the schedule, they are less likely to interrupt, allowing you to get more accomplished. However, on occasion things will disrupt the schedule – life happens, so learn to be flexible. It’s also wise to make the most of optimal times of day, whether that’s first thing in the morning or at the end of the evening when things are quieter. Use this time to plan and organize activities for the following day.
Tackling more difficult tasks first.
Most of us put off those difficult tasks for as long as possible, but procrastination just elongates the misery. Do yourself a favour and tackle those difficult tasks first. Doing these tasks first improves your overall productivity because you are physiologically more focused in the morning and there are usually fewer distractions. Dealing with difficult tasks first allows more time to address the inevitable hurdles or obstacles that can occur. If you hold off on these tasks until the end, you simply have no time to recover, which could jeopardize any deadline.
Finding ways to keep the kids occupied.
For those working from home with kids home for the summer, you need to get a little creative. With older children, you can get them involved in activities that are self-sustaining (e.g., reading, drawing, puzzles, or other games) or find projects around the house to get them engaged. Younger children requiring parental supervision are a little trickier. You can investigate virtual activities created by licensed caregivers, or now that day camps, programs and daycare centres are reopening, consider enrolling your child for a portion of the day or week – it can give you both a needed break – they can enjoy playtime activities and you can focus on work.
Setting up a summer workspace.
We’d all like to spend warm summer days outside soaking up the sun – but it’s not always possible with work. To maximize your summer vibe, consider setting up your desk near a window to let the natural light energize you. You’ll be surprised at how much more productive you can be with a little sunshine in your day. If it’s possible, consider working outside for a few hours each day. If your work is portable, try setting up on the deck or on your porch even for a couple of hours, weather permitting.
Summer-izing your breaks.
If getting outside to work for even a couple of hours each day isn’t possible, then get outside on scheduled breaks. Have lunch outside on the deck or spread a blanket out on a patch of grass to enjoy snacks and refreshments. Take a brisk walk to re-energize, give yourself stretch breaks outside or instead of the usual coffee, have a smoothie, a popsicle, or another favourite summer treat.
Attending (or organizing) virtual team lunches or coffee breaks.
Connecting with peers is a great way to decompress and socialize. It breaks up the monotony of the daily grind and gives you an opportunity to bond and interact with your network. Attending (or organizing) virtual team lunches or breaks gives you a perfect excuse to meet with team members, share ideas, concerns or simply talk about things that are happening in your life. Whether you are working from home or in the office, taking time to connect is essential for your sanity. Holding these meetings in an outdoor setting can improve everyone’s mood and boost engagement at work.
Making time for you.
One of the best ways to stay productive is to make time for yourself. While some may think making time for yourself is selfish, nothing could be further from the truth. Pushing yourself for days and weeks on work projects without setting aside time to nurture your mind, body, and spirit, can lead to burnout. Self-care helps you perform at your best and is a way to maintain a healthy balanced life. It can also strengthen self-confidence and self-esteem. So, take time out each day to replenish yourself. Catch up on some reading, learn something new, practice a recently learned skill and take care of your body and mind.
Carving out time for fun.
It’s summer, so don’t forget to plan time for summer fun activities with family and friends. Everyone needs to unplug and get away from work occasionally to de-stress and rejuvenate. Prioritize time with family and friends. Exotic vacations are on hold right now but that shouldn’t stop you from taking a short trip, going to the beach, or enjoying a weekend of camping. Quality time with friends and family helps clear your mind, puts things in perspective and can even generate new ideas. Give yourself permission to have fun, you’ll be surprised at how refreshed and energized you’ll feel.
These are simply a few strategies that you can easily implement to help you beat the typical summertime slump in productivity. If you need help exploring other options that you can implement to improve productivity, increase morale, and contribute to a better work/life balance for you and your employees, Vexxit can help match you with an HR consultant.