It’s summer! All you can think of is vacation, waves, beach, and cold drinks. Instead, you are stuck at home and still need to work. I can’t honestly find an encouraging bright side to that, but maybe it would make you feel better if you knew that you are not alone! No less than 25 percent of US workers feel less productive during the summer months and 68 percent admit that they are daydreaming during office hours. And that’s what summer slump is all about.
Seriously, what is summer slump?
There are several factors that create the so-called summer slump. Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why people are less productive during the summer
- Heat. Studies show that hot weather affects cognitive function, making people react slower and performing tasks less accurately. On average, 45 percent of the workers are more distracted during the summer and have a harder time maintaining their focus.
- Social conditioning. Ever since childhood, we learn that summers are for fun and holidays. When the heat comes, school ends and the fun starts. The average person experiences that same cycle for about 12 years of their lives. Once we step into adulthood, with the first job, that cycle is suddenly interrupted. However, at a subconscious level, we are still expecting that long summer break every year.
- Burn out. Working from home during the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. More people feel stressed and close to burnout than ever before. Of the US workers, 56 percent feel like they need a vacation. Yet, a third of them won’t use their vacation days this year. Of those who are taking a vacation, 60 percent take less than a week, 23 percent take a week and only 17 percent enjoy 2 or more weeks of vacation.
Now that we know what makes us less productive during the summer, we should find some ways to overcome these challenges.
Strategies to beat the summer slump
Here are eight strategies that could help you beat the summer slump. They were designed for people working from home, but you can successfully use them even when you’re at the office. Some of them, at least 🙂
So let’s get started and kick the summer slump good bye!
1. Stay cool
Avoid the hot temperatures that can affect your cognitive abilities by working in a room with AC. Scientists recommend indoor temperatures around 72°F for optimal brain functioning.
Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water, avoid caffeine and eat light meals. All of these will keep you in good health, improving your overall mood and comfort.
2. Hold on to a schedule
Stay productive during the long summer days by following a schedule. You don’t have to plan every second of your day, but the main tasks should be clearly set. It’s easy to get distracted and forget important stuff when you hear kids playing outside and people having fun around you.
Keep your schedule in a visible spot as a reminder of what you need to accomplish before the end of the day.
3. Participate in social activities
Spending time with friends and family can be considered a form of therapy during these trying times. People working from home are more isolated than ever, being deprived of regular office social interactions.
Even if you can’t go to concerts or spend time in crowded places due to the ongoing pandemic, summers are great for safe social activities outdoors. Go on a picnic with your family during the weekends, or invite a few friends over for a BBQ.
4. Take a vacation
The best way to get something off your mind is to just do it. So just do it! Pack your bags and go away for a few days. A change of scenery can be exactly what you need to regain your full powers. A break from work will most definitely help you relax and recharge. When you finally get back, you will feel like a new person.
Don’t wait until the end of the summer, rip the band-aid and get away as soon as the heat starts to settle in. Definitely, you’ll be able to focus on your work better when you are not dreaming and longing for a vacation.
5. Take leisure breaks
When a vacation is off the table, the least you can do is to enjoy the summer little by little. Find fun activities you can enjoy during short breaks throughout the day.
Make the best out of your lunch break by taking your food outside, in the garden. Instead of spending time in front of a screen, try some digital detox strategies. Pull a sunbed in your back garden and enjoy a lemonade while the sun is still up and shining. After half an hour, you will get back to work rejuvenated and filled with new energy.
6. Change your daily routine
When you feel like you’re in a rut, it’s always good to mix things up a little. Make your summer days more exciting by changing your daily routine.
If you don’t like big changes, even the small ones can help. For example, try new food, shop at a different store, listen to new music, or take a different route when you walk your dog.
We all feel the need of doing something exciting during the summer, so give in to that urge and spice up your days!
7. Try time blocking
Time blocking is a form of commitment to a single activity for a period of time. It’s a strategy that helps you stay focused during short periods and get stuff done one step at a time.
One of the best time management strategies that use time blocking is the Pomodoro Technique. Mixing time blocking with regular and frequent breaks can help you stay productive and avoid burnout.
8. Plan for the future
Planning for the future might not help you beat the summer slump alone, but it will make you feel better about life, and more motivated.
It seems pointless to dedicate yourself to something when you can’t see any exciting outcome on the horizon. Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish and come up with a timeline. If you spend your summer days daydreaming, at least you will dream of something that motivates you and has the potential to improve your life.
This should be your mantra during this summer. Don’t feel guilty if you spend too much time with your family and don’t perform at 100% while working.
Take things as they come and allow yourself to have some fun and enjoy life. That’s what summers are for, after all!