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How To Maximize Your Productivity This Summer

iStock_000027569745SmallIf there’s anything to hate about summer (other than the heat, sunburn, frizzy hair, and not being able to ship your kids off to school all day), it’s that the whole thing seems set up to foster the greatest degree of distraction possible. The long days make sitting on patios and porches seem like a very natural option; the rising temperatures render you nearly powerless against the urge to park yourself in front of a fan with something cold (and possibly fermented) in hand; and of course, everyone you know is name-dropping the beautiful, beachy locales they keep running off to. Kinda makes spending all day at your desk feel like a completely counter-intuitive waste of season.

Are you thoroughly depressed yet? Don’t worry – there’s an upside.

For these and other reasons, summer genuinely does tend to be a time of decreased productivity in most industries that don’t directly thrive as a result of the season. So if you can manage to stay focused while every else is wallowing in sleepy summer brain, you have an excellent opportunity to get ahead. If nothing else, you’ll feel delightfully smug when everyone else is scrambling to catch up once Labor Day rolls around.

  1. Work “siesta” hours

Depending on where you live and how hot it gets there, mid-afternoon to early evening is an almost unbearable time to be outdoors. Probably the worst thing about working during the summer is hustling to get things done early in the day so you can go enjoy yourself, only to realize that by the time you finally got free, the temps had risen far past the point of enjoyable. Try reversing your schedule (if you can, obviously): wake up early and go for a long brunch, or take a morning run, or sit by the neighborhood pool with your kids until lunch. That way, by the time it gets too hot to be fun outside, you will have already had some nice downtime and will feel perfectly content to retreat indoors, crank the A/C and get to work.

  1. Rework your schedule

This is especially true if you have kids who are in school the rest of the year. For various reasons, schedules run a bit different during the summer. Instead of scrambling to make your normal schedule continue to work for you (and watching your productivity and happiness suffer when you fail to pull that off), be proactive about figuring out what daily structure will work for the next few months.

  1. Take a vacation

Taking one – or two! – weeks off (and really, truly taking the time off – no letting work follow you to the beach out of guilt) will give your brain the restoration it needs to be even more on its game the rest of the summer. You’ll end up losing less by intentionally removing focus from work for a short time than by being distracted with vacation lust all summer.

  1. Deal with backlogged to-dos

You know that tragically long list of little things that would make your business more efficient, updated, and generally smoother? And how you keep saying you’re get to them “when you have time”? Summer might be that time. If you work in an industry where business tends to slow during this time (believe it or not, that’s the vast majority of industries), your instinct could be to respond to slower business with a fevered attempt to drum up new clients and customers. But that might be a futile use of your energy and resources since the cause of the slowdown isn’t really anything you’re doing or not doing. Instead, realistically accept the ebbs and flows during the year, and make the best use you can of the downtime – which might include some deep housecleaning. You’ll look fresher than ever come fall!

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