It’s long been known as a fact, that productivity at work plummets during the summer — especially in July and August. A study by Captivate Office Pulse found that during the summer, productivity decreases by 20 percent. Additionally, attendance drops by 19 percent and work turnaround time increase by 13 percent.
There are several reasons why this is the case. The most obvious is that a lot of people are taking vacations during this time of year. Even if you’re still hustling, employees, investors, vendors, and clients might be out of town. It’s tough to get things done when decision-makers are out of town.
Another culprit is the weather. Most of us can’t focus when it’s nice outside. Since we’d rather be outdoors, we get more distracted. Research from the Harvard Business School backs they claim up. They found that crummy weather conditions, like rain, encourage us to be more productive since we aren’t getting cognitively distracted.
Moreover, we get distracted by FOMO. We see a friend relaxing on the beach, and we focus on how awesome that would be instead of working. There’s also the weather. When it’s too hot, it’s harder to make decisions and humidity makes lose concentration. As a result, we crank up the AC. But, when it’s too cold, we tend to make more errors.
So, yeah. Summer doesn’t just slow you and your business’s productivity; it can put you in a slump. Of course, there some ways to prevent this from happening. For example, shifting your priorities, having meetings outside, and shaking up your routine. But, fighting against this all summer can be exhausting. Instead, use this lull to your advantage and become productive during your summer slump.
1. Catch up on some reading.
I don’t have to tell you just how vital reading is. While I do read daily, there are times when I don’t get to learn as much as I would like. But, thankfully, I can always count on the summer to catch up on books and even industry publications.
The best part about reading is that you don’t have to catch up on reading. Reading can always be a part of what you do. Read something light if you wish to, during a long weekend or vacation. Or maybe — heavy reading should be done right now? What works best for your learning? Because the office is usually a little less hectic, I’m able to read in my office during breaks throughout the day.
2. Learn something new.
Just like reading, learning is essential for entrepreneurs. Make time for this piece of your life. Of course, a lot of us are way too busy to stop what we’re doing to make this something we do daily. However, since there’s some downtime right now, it’s the perfect summer activity.
What you want to learn is entirely up to you. But, it should be something that will help you grow as a person. You may choose to improve by learning a new language, how to play a musical instrument, or enhancing your existing professional skills. Other options would be to get out of your comfort zone and to explore your city or trying out a new productivity technique.
3. Schedule more lunch meetings.
I’m a big fan of lunch meetings. I’ve found that there aren’t as many distractions and there’s more flexibility with time. Most importantly, it allows you to spend valuable one-on-one time with clients, prospects, and employees. Spending one on one time is particularly true if you want to build a relationship with a new networking contact.
Additionally, it’s the perfect excuse to get out of the office for a bit. And, if you pick up the check, there’s no better way to show your appreciation.
If lunch meetings aren’t always an option, then consider walking meetings. Or relocate a team meeting from the conference to a park. Doing so will spark creativity and help keep everyone in good spirits.
Volunteering is another activity that we should do more often. It doesn’t just make the community better; it also gives you a chance to strengthen your skills and network. And it just makes you feel amazing.
Let’s say on Friday afternoons you and your team help build a community garden or teach a class for free. You could also mentor or coach aspiring entrepreneurs. Or, speaking of coaching, see if any local sports teams need coaches or someone to raise money for them.
5. Focus on your body.
Last winter, I neglected my health. I wasn’t exercising as much and eating like crap. Going into the new year, I wanted to focus on my body. Of course, that’s still a juggling act between all of my existing obligations and battling the elements.
While I’ve been able to follow through with this goal, I’m going to kick it up a notch. With a little more free time, and the desire to get outside as much as I can, this summer I’ll be focusing on eating healthier, exercising daily, and meditating. Using a calendar for scheduling will ensure I accomplish my goals. Eating right, exercising, and meditating will give me the energy and stamina to be more productive, while also reducing the amount of stress in my life.
6. Strengthen your leadership skills.
Being a founder doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a natural-born leader. A lot of entrepreneurs struggle with this day in and out. However, this is the perfect season to change that around.
During the summer, enhance your leadership skills. That sounds broad. So, I suggest getting some feedback from your team to see which areas you should focus on. For example, if you need to improve your communications skills, then seek out advice through books, podcasts, webinars, or Ted Talks. Record yourself during a meeting to see your performance — I did this and found that I spoke too quietly. Check out productivity hacks backed by science.
7. Re-organize your work environment.
You would be surprised at all of the stuff you accumulate over time. If left unchecked, this can create a cluttered and disorganized environment that is blocking you from being productive. So, send your spare time tossing out items you no longer need and organizing your files. And, don’t forget to clean out your inbox as well.
After you’ve cleaned and organized your workspace, you might want to re-organize it as well ultimately. You may find that the new layout is more functional. And, sometimes changing things gets those creative juices flowing.
8. Attend industry events.
I can’t tell you how many events I’ve not attended because I’ve been so swamped. But, if you have some free time this summer, then that’s when you should attend as many events as possible.
Not only will this get you out of the workplace, but it’s also a chance for you to learn new information or become aware of the latest trends. There’s also plenty of networking opportunities as well.
9. Spend more time getting to know your team.
How many times has an employee asked if you have five minutes to chat, and you respond that you’re “too busy?” That excuse doesn’t fly right now. And, whether you realize it or not, getting to know each other will be beneficial for everyone.
When you get to know your team, you’ll be able to motivate them better and inspire them since you’ve built a relationship. Also, it shows your team that you have a genuine interest in your employees. As such, they’ll be more engaged and loyal to you and the business.
10. Tackle your deferred project list.
I think we all a list of items that we’ll get around to eventually. Even if they’re important, we tend to forget about our listings when they’re not urgent. Take the time to reconsider your lists and deferred projects. Update all account information and get price comparisons done on insurance providers. In other words, get all the smaller projects out of the way that have been bugging you
If you don’t cross these items off now, then when? And, if this list continues to grow, then it will become too overwhelming to address. Go ahead and set some time aside to get these tasks done and over with finally.
11. Think about your future goals.
“Unhook from the minute-to-minute, day-to-day franticness and give yourself some space,” David Allen, author of the popular book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, told Forbes. “Lift your head up and look at the longer horizon. What would you like to have accomplished? What do you want your life to look like a year from now or even five years from now?”
Since the office is quieter and you aren’t as busy, you can finally answer those questions. And, you can start making plans on how you will achieve them.
12. Take a vacation.
Finally, don’t forget to have some fun this summer. And, for most of us, that means getting out of Dodge and going on a vacation.
Everyone, including entrepreneurs, need to step away from work occasionally. It will clear your head, alleviate all of that stress, and help you develop fresh ideas. Along the way, you may also learn and partake in new experiences. It also allows you to spend quality time with friends or family.
If you can’t go on an exotic vacation, then plan a weekend getaway that’s within driving distance. And, there’s always the staycation where you stay home but unplug for a couple of days. Whatever you do, take the time to enjoy yourself this summer so you can come back refreshed.