But these small joys can also make for a lack of productivity; I call it the summer slump. No one wants to do work when there are people outside heading to the beach and eating ice cream, right? Alas, the work is necessary, especially in Q3–this is the time when you should be improving on your Q1 and Q2 performances and paving the way for smooth sailing through the end of the year.
That means it’s crucial to avoid the summer slump. It may seem like an impossible feat, but with these 10 tips, you can get ahead of the slump. Amazingly, all of them are things that have nothing to do with work. These are my list of tips to do when you’re away from the office so that you return to the office fresh faced, smiling, and ready to work!
When you can swing it, tuning out helps you clear your mind and make room for new thoughts, ideas, and approaches. Whether you achieve this by putting your phone away for a few hours, keeping your e-mail off your phone entirely, or practicing something like meditation, tuning out allows you to think more clearly.
Later on, when you come back, you’ll be able to work more thoughtfully, rather than just going through the motions.
2. Keep moving
When the opportunity to travel arises, take it. Sure, we don’t all have fancy business dinners halfway across the globe (at least, not regularly). But even simple movements like working on a couch instead of at your desk or meeting a client at their office instead of yours can rejuvenate you in the middle of those long summer afternoons.
3. Take a splurge day
It may seem obvious, but take an entire day and do whatever the hell makes you happy. Sometimes I use my splurge day to eat all of my favorite meals. Once, after a particularly grueling travel schedule, I used my splurge day to sleep for 30 hours. Whatever you feel like your body needs to recharge and re-energize — do that.
Consider taking it one step further, and implement tip #1 while you’re on your splurge day. Unplug. Resist the urge to catalogue your (hopefully epic) day on social media, or sneak a peek at your incoming emails. A wave of new ideas and inspiration begins to flow when you aren’t constantly looking down.
3. Write it down
Your free time should re-energize your thoughts. I often find that an idea will come to me when I’m exploring some of my favorite sights on the weekends. An important part of taking a splurge day is to write down your thoughts and ideas that will catapult you, reenergized and inspired, back into the workplace.
4. Get sleep
I’m not too sure about the textbook under the pillow theory, but it is widely recognized and believed that dreams are our brain’s way of processing our day. So get sleep this summer. People often feel like winter is for hibernating and summer is for all night fun. But all night fun leads to lack of sleep and lack of sleep makes for a hard Monday morning. Your weekend is precious, use it and enjoy it, but not at the cost of a blurry, eye rubbing, never ending chase to catch up through the week only to do it all again. When you sleep well your brain is refreshed and your ideas are better thought out. Speaking of which…
5. Leave a pen and paper on your bedside table
Put a pen and notebook on your bedside table for early morning daydreams or late night ideas that pop into your head just as you’re falling asleep. Instead of shaking off your night, process what you can remember thinking about by writing it down. You don’t need to write pages, a single sentence will do. Bring the journal in to work and review what you wrote when you experience any blocks or down time. You never know what your unconscious brain could gift you.
6. Make your own fun
As the old saying goes, “People wait all week for Friday. All year waiting for summer. All their life for happiness.” In the summer months, it’s easy to wait around for the next “fun” thing, whether that’s a vacation you have planned or an office happy hour.
But when you’re waiting around for the fun, the rest of your time feels “un-fun” by comparison. So instead, make your own fun. Go outside for lunch. Play music while you work (out loud, if your co-workers don’t mind). Enter your company into a summer softball league.
Creating these little spurts of fun will break up your days and weeks, so that you avoid the monotony of non-stop work.
7. Go to a museum
Spend time looking at work that inspires, interests, or intrigues you. I find this type of work on a museum wall, and take great joy in visiting museums whenever I’m in a new city. Find your museum.
8. Create something
And I mean something you can’t make in the Microsoft Office Suite. Use your free time to make something entirely non-work related. This can be applied all year long, but can be especially helpful in the summer, when there’s pressure to go, go, go.
When the sun is out, we feel like we have to be out, too. But being out and about all the time can be draining; spending some time along and creating a painting, a collage, or some poems keeps your mind active, but in a different way than going to meetings and working on presentations.
When you return to the office, there’s a good chance that your creative endeavors will have sparked an idea or two for your work.
9. Be a mentor
Volunteering your time is a great way to better yourself, grow, and learn in your profession. When I started college at age 14 (yes, 14), I could have been intimidated. But truthfully, I was just eager to be around so many older people, who I knew had so much to offer. Mentoring a younger student or professional allows you the opportunity to share your knowledge and receive some in return.
10. Learn something new
Learning how to code, use Photoshop, or edit video, are all substantial uses of your free time, but I’m not just referring to skills directly applicable to your career. You can benefit just as much from learning how to knit or how to play an instrument or a new sport. Though these skills may not be directly applicable in the office, the ability to commit to a new task and learn is essential to success in all facets of life.
These are just some of the ways that I like to get ahead. What are some of yours?