With nice spring and summer weather just around the corner, it’s likely that your mind will start wandering to things like swimming pools, BBQs, pina coladas, and well, anything other than work, really. Staying productive is tough when there’s an abundance of nice weather outside, but you have an abundance of work to get done inside.
You’re not the only one who struggles with this. In fact, as shown by this infographic, over 1/4 of the entire workforce in the US feel unproductive over the summer months.
We often have great intentions heading into summer, with lofty expectations of what we are going to get done. We all know that it doesn’t always turn out that way, though.
We want you to enjoy the sunshine outside AND enjoy some very productive growth and improvement for you business. Here’s a few tips that can help you have a great summer, both inside the office and outside in the sun.
Let Yourself be Unproductive
That’s right. This blog post about staying productive is beginning with a recommendation to allow yourself to be unproductive. The trick, though, is that you must do this strategically.
We’ve all heard the work hard, play hard idiom. This isn’t just a catchy expression. In fact, if applied correctly, it can be a great philosophy to live your life by. Playing hard is just as important as working hard. Taking time to recharge your batteries will allow you to hunker down and focus when you need to. Give in to those temptations. Take time for yourself. It’s amazing what you’ll be able to accomplish after you get back in work mode! Not to mention, you’ll be happier doing it.
A lack of productivity is often related to a lack of inspiration. Inspired people work hard, fact. They have a vision and put in the work each day to bring it to fruition.
Make sure you incorporate strategies to keep yourself inspired during these upcoming months. Here’s a few different tactics to help you stay inspired:
- Exercise. Studies have shown that exercise improves thinking skills, gives you a creative boost, and improve memory and mental performance.
- Travel. Change of scenery can do so much for inspiration. Sometimes to get a new perspective on a problem or challenge, the best thing to do is gain a new physical perspective. Go somewhere. See something new. Take a day trip. It doesn’t take a roadtrip across the US or backpacking through Europe to check this box.
- Read. Spending time in a great book is one of the most inspiring experiences you can have. Ask friends, colleagues, or peers for their book recommendations. Make a list of books you want to read and start turning pages. You will find inspiration.
- Dialog. There’s nothing more inspiring than a great conversation. Go out and meet new people. Call up an old friend and have a conversation that goes deeper than surface level. Learn about something new. Seek real and authentic dialog and you will find inspiration in the process.
- Schedule. Block out time dedicated to being creative and doing creative projects for enjoyment. The best way to make sure it happens is to actually put it on your schedule.
- Indulge. Whether it’s a great glass of wine on the patio, listening to that favorite album, or the perfect cup of coffee. Take time to enjoy one of the many providences we are blessed to have access to on the earth. Sometimes it’s all about the small things.
- Keep a journal. Being intentional about processing your thoughts and writing them down can do wonders for creating inspiration.
- Spend time with friends. There is a bond you have with certain people in your life that is stronger than any others. This bond is stronger for a reason. They are a ying to your yang. Maybe they challenge you? Maybe you have many similar theories and approaches to life? Spend time with these people. These relationships are what shape you and make you who you are. The time you spend with them will also inspire you in new ways.
- Sleep. For some of you, none of the above can be successful without getting the shut-eye you need to function. If you’re one of those people, you already know how truly inspiring a morning after a full night’s rest can be. Get your sleep.
Plan for Greatness
Get a jump on each day by planning what you are going to accomplish. Don’t let the day control you. You control the day. I recommend identifying one main task that you will focus on and doing it first thing when you plug in to work in the morning, especially one you need to get done but don’t really want to do. This is sometimes referred to as “eating the frog.”
After all, those who have no plan, plan to fail.
“Having some intentions for your time can help you make the most of it.” – Laura Vanderkam
Set goals for yourself and your business. Move beyond planning your day and look at long-term goals for your business and for yourself. This is a great time to reflect on what you’d like to see happen over the next year. Go even deeper and research. This is a great time of the year to plan the process and then spend the rest of the year executing it and accomplishing great things.
Deal with Distractions
There are many different methods you can read about for dealing with distractions available online. Find the ones that work best for you, but here are a few to get you started:
- Deal with Time-Wasting Websites. Try chrome extensions like StayFocused.
- Implement The Pomodoro Technique. Take a five minute walk outside while in between pomodoros. There are many apps, websites, and others tools that can help you implement this technique. Toggl, Marinara Timer by 352, and Flat Tomato are a few I have personally found useful.
- Alter your workspace. Make any necessary changes to your workspace so that it is conducive to time spent on work that requires careful focus.
- Schedule time to indulge in what distracts you. Instead of using up valuable work time on your distractions, schedule out time for them in advance. That way, you can focus on the task at hand knowing that you’ll be enjoying time spent in your indulgence soon.
- Create lists. Create a simple list of tasks you are going to get done at work on a given day. This will be tremendously helpful for keeping you on track of overall progress, as well as helping you stay focused on what’s priority instead of getting pulled away into other more trivial tasks during the day. My go to tool for this is Trello. But there are SO MANY awesome tools that exist for this exact reason. Do a quick search for to-do apps and get things done tools and you will find something that works great for you.
- Control the temperature. Don’t let temperature in your workplace be a distraction. Temperature does have an impact. 68-76 is optimal for productivity and health. The ideal temperature is between 70 and 72 degrees. Find the temperature that is most comfortable and conducive to work for you (while keeping any office mates in mind, of course).
Want to be outside? Have to work? Go outside and work! Today, we all have access to technology, which makes it easier than ever to head outside, find a place to sit, and get to work. Have a pen and paper? Sometimes, that’s all you need. If that’s not enough, WiFi is available almost anywhere these days, and you likely have a smart device that is powerful enough to send a rocket into space (with a pretty fast data connection, too).
Go outside, find a spot and get some work done outside the office.
We mentioned exercise above as a way to keep your mind sharp and creative. Combine these two and get some exercise while you are outside. Go on a jog. Do some yoga. Play some sports. Your brain will thank you for the sunshine and improved focus later.
Focus on Growth
We normally associate self-improvement and creating personal goals for the next year with the start of a new year. In reality, though, summer is a much better time to review your previous year and plan for the future. After all, it’s not in the midst of the frenzy that always surrounds the new year. Take this season to self-evaluate, learn, measure, and set goals. Conduct your annual self-review.
Here’s a few ideas related to personal growth:
- Take an online course from sites like Academic Earth
- Watch a TED Talk! They are easy to find. Just do a quick google search. And, you can even watch some of them on your Netflix account.
- Attend a Webinar
- Get that certification you’ve been meaning to get.
- Read. Go outside with a book.
Have a Great Summer
There you have it. Let the sun shine outside… you will be staying productive, motivated, inspired, and making that cash register ring all the while. We hope you’ll be able to take at least a couple ideas from this post and apply them in order to have a very productive spring and summer. Don’t forget to play in that nice weather!