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Summer Fever: Don’t let productivity drop!

By Faith Driscoll, Esq.

The mindset of “summer vacation” is here and often causes employees to mentally check out. This time of year, when the sun is shining, and the blue sky is beckoning for us to go outside and play hooky, it can be challenging to stay focused on work. So how do you stay inspired, motivated, and productive at work when you’d rather go for a bike ride or catch a day game at the ballpark?  Here are a few tips that may help.

Get outside! Feeling trapped inside your office walls? Try holding morning meetings outside. If it’s a meeting between two people, discuss business as you walk around the block. Eat your lunch outdoors or head to the park. The idea is that instead of being stuck indoors wishing you were outside, you can take advantage of the great weather by incorporating it into your work day. Even sitting outside for five minutes or taking a short walk can make you feel better about being at work. It’s good for your physical and mental health.

Set your brain to work mode. When it’s tough to focus at your desk, there are lots of effective methods for being more productive. First, try working in sprints. Set a goal to work for a predetermined amount of time, (using a timer) and don’t stop until the time runs out (ixnay the social media and internet browsing). After a short break, go back and do another work sprint. Using timed work/rest periods can be great at keeping you focused and on task. Other productivity tips include setting daily productivity goals, doing your most important or challenging tasks early in the day (when your focus is usually the strongest), staying hydrated to maintain alertness, and dressing professionally. In the summer, it’s tempting to wear T-shirts and flip-flops to the office, but this will only make it feel more like you’re in vacation mode instead of work mode.

Adjust your environment. To be productive, you need to create an environment that’s conducive to working. Keep your desk organized. Eliminate distractions (turn off your email application, hide your phone, etc.). Make sure your office is cool and comfortable. If it’s too hot, you’ll feel sluggish, which is a productivity killer. If the A/C in the office isn’t great, use a desk fan. Do whatever you need to do to feel good, alert, and ready to work.

Turn downtime into productive time. Summer can be slow time for many industries. Rather than surfing the web, or doing some other mindless activity to pass the time, take advantage of your downtime to learn new skills or cross train. Rather than making you bored, and staring out the window, staying busy will keep your mind sharp and help the time pass more quickly. You know how it works—boredom begets boredom. So take on new tasks. Challenge yourself.

Plan for fun. Summer is a great time for team building. Going for drinks after work, or planning something bigger like a company picnic can be an excellent way to have fun and keep everyone feeling more connected to each other, the company, and their jobs. But you don’t have to restrict activities to outside of work. Incorporating some creative fun directly into the work day can be a great way to engage people on a daily basis.

So, next time you’re struggling to find inspiration at work when the great outdoors is beckoning, try some of the above tips. While this time of year can be a tough one for staying motivated, taking the right steps toward staying focused and managing your energy can help you feel better, enjoy the summer, and be more productive, too. Share your thoughts on how to help yourself (and employees) with HR practitioners in SHRM T/K’s Member Forum. To access the page, log on, then select the Member Forum page from the Members menu. Don't forget to subscribe to receive notifications of new posts!

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