It’s that time of the year when the days are longer and the weather is warmer. Your calendar is likely filling up with weekend trips, day excursions, family commitments, and pool days, because the beloved season we long await has arrived: summer.
Perhaps, like me, you can relate to the nostalgic feeling that summer always elicits. As a child, I counted the days until summer break with a paper chain that hung in my school classroom. Using crayons and markers, I would create a list of all the activities I couldn’t wait to do, from swimming to sleepovers with friends. Summer was truly a vacation.
As an adult, the weather still brings a sense of freedom, renewal, and rest, but it’s not quite as carefree as it was in childhood. Working full time requires planning summer-related activities around that schedule.
While we might not have the opportunity to enjoy the same stretch of free time as we did as kids, it is possible to still experience that sense of magic that summer brings. It often just requires intentionally structuring our work time and maintaining our motivation throughout the day so that we have enough time when we can truly sign off and disconnect.
Molly Riedel, Life Time Work community leader in Edina, Minn., offers six tips to help us do just that this summer season:
1. Choose a thoughtful space.
“Many people are still working from home, and that can become really distracting if you live with roommates, or have a spouse or children,” says Riedel. “Even if you’re alone, gazing out the window at the activity in your neighborhood can be distracting. So find a place to work where you can stay focused without being distracted by FOMO situations.”
It’s also important to identify a few places you can go for much-needed mental breaks throughout the day. “Enjoy the nice summer weather by meeting a coworker or client outside for lunch, drink your morning coffee on a patio or deck, or step outside for a midday walk or breath of fresh air to break up your day.”
2. Surround yourself with other working professionals.
“Life Time Work president, James O’Reilly, says this all the time: ‘Being in a coworking space inspires productivity through osmosis.’ That basically means if you’re around other people who are being productive, that will help keep you in that productive mindset as well,” says Riedel. “Life Time Work members express that as an advantage of officing from our coworking space, and we’re seeing that more as companies are offering flexibility for their employees in regards to their workspace.”
3. Stay organized.
“Prioritize your ‘have to do’s’ versus your ‘want to do’s’ in your work life and your personal life on separate to-do lists,” advises Riedel. This can help you manage and divide your time.
“Methods of organization vary from person to person,” she continues. “Personally, I use a combination of tactics. I have my Outlook calendar that manages my meetings for the workday. For my to-do list, I’m a big fan of the old-fashioned sticky note. I write my daily to-dos on a sticky note because at the end of the day, hopefully, I’ll have knocked out each task and I can throw the list away.”
4. Set daily goals — and an endpoint.
“This goes hand-in-hand with getting and staying organized: Set clear goals with an endpoint in mind when you start your workday,” explains Riedel. “Conceptualize the amount of work you want to get done that day. Having that final step in your day helps you see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
5. Avoid overworking.
“Refrain from overloading yourself during the summer,” suggests Riedel. “Prioritize time to recharge your internal batteries so you don’t get burnt out.” One way to accomplish this is to avoid planning too much for yourself in one day, week, or month. Be realistic about your personal time because it is summer and you do want to take advantage of that — and you should be able to.
“There may be times, however, when you have to power through a busy day or a heavy to-do list for that week,” Reidel says. “You can motivate yourself to accomplish those tasks by reminding yourself that tomorrow or the next week may be better, or by planning something fun to reward yourself with when your time opens back up.”
6. Plan ahead.
“Spread out your planned, personal activities throughout the summer. Whether it’s an evening out, a weekend excursion, or a weeklong vacation, having a few exciting plans to look forward to throughout the summer will help you push through the work week,” says Riedel. “It’s motivation to get organized and prioritize your to-do list when you know you have something fun waiting for you at the end of your day.”