Since childhood we are ingrained with the idea that summer is a time for taking breaks. Work gives way to relaxing, playing outdoors, swimming and family vacations. After 18 years of this seasonal schedule, the mindset of summer equating to break time becomes a habit and focusing on work becomes a challenge.
Making changes to shift focus to productive summer activities is especially important for kids. Boston, Chicago and New York City have all reported that implementing summer youth work programs have helped to curb violence, incarcerations and even mortality among teens. Instead of burning time and getting into trouble, teens that focus on summer jobs earn extra income and gain invaluable job experience.
This is an extreme example, but it highlights the need for keeping your eye on the ball when there are plenty of summer distractions. Staying focused isn’t easy when coworkers are planning vacations, rich aromas are wafting up from bar-be-cues and the pool is calling your name, but with a shift in strategy it’s possible.
Distraction: Lull in Sales
Fix #1: Shift Focus to Research
Customers are taking time off from work and from making purchases, which means summer is often a slow season for many companies. Trying to tempt them to buy with sales or just dealing with the reduction in revenue isn’t the most productive use of your summer months. While you have the downtime conduct customer research to hone in on what will get more people making purchases throughout the entire year.
Fix #2: Shift Focus to Prospecting
Sales may have slowed for the summer, but a well thought out prospecting campaign could pick things up in the fall. Spreading the word by getting face to face with your customers and building grassroots movements that are extremely low cost and effective!
Distraction: Others Are Taking Vacations
Fix #1: Take on New Tasks
It’s easy to slack off when there are fewer people in the office and fewer moving forward. Instead of drifting into daydreams of summer fun, take on additional tasks. Offer to cover a co-worker’s essential tasks while they are away or take on additional responsibilities to pick up the slack. Step up and lead a project so that others who plan to be out of the office don’t have to worry about keeping things on schedule. The opportunity to take on more responsibility and increase your skillset will become your focus instead of escaping to the outdoors.
Fix #2: Plan Numerous Long Weekends
When others are on holiday vacation envy can set in and completely distract you from the work at hand. Taking one long vacation is great, but once it’s over you may have vacation withdrawal. Head off the envy and withdrawal by scheduling several long weekends over the whole summer instead of one big excursion. Going on a number of short vacations will boost productivity and be less stressful because you won’t be as worried about work piling up.
Distraction: The Summer Weather Right Outside Your Window
Fix #1: Adjust Your Work Schedule
If possible, consider adjusting your work schedule so you come in earlier and get off earlier. Getting started early in the morning, when it’s just starting to get light outside, will make it easier to focus on work. As the day goes on, it will may become more difficult to maintain that focus, so getting off just an hour earlier in the afternoon can go a long way toward improving productivity. Another option is working summer hours – 10 hours just four days a week.
Fix #2: Put Top Priorities at the Start of the Day
For the reasons noted above, it’s best to time block your schedule so that your top priorities are at the start of the day. That way you can focus on the tasks that absolutely need to be done without distraction.
Controlling your environment can also help you stay focused during the summer months. Change your workspace location, shift your point of view so you aren’t looking out the window and adjust the room temperature between 70-72° F. Research from the Helsinki University of Technology and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that this is the most productive temperature range.