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 usually a lot of people are taking vacations during this time of year. However, with COVID-19, vacations are scarce. Even if you’re still hustling while working from home, employees, investors, vendors, and clients might be from out of town. It’s tougher to do in-person business when many people are out of town. We’ve moved to a virtual world, especially in business.
Another culprit of plummeted productivity is the weather. Most of us can’t focus when it’s nice outside. Since we’d rather be outdoors, especially during the pandemic, we get more distracted. Research from the Harvard Business School backs this 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 might see a friend relaxing on social media, and we focus on how awesome that would be instead of working. There’s also the indoor temperature. 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 home 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 try out a new productivity technique.
3. Schedule more virtual lunch meetings.
I’m a big fan of virtual 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, even if it’s virtual, is particularly true if you want to build a relationship with a new networking contact. Additionally, it’s the perfect excuse to take a break from work for a bit.
If virtual lunch meetings aren’t always an option, then consider walking meetings while on a conference call. Or you could even relocate a virtual team meeting from their home offices to their local parks. Doing so will spark creativity, help them get outdoors, 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 teach a virtual class for free. You could also virtually mentor or coach aspiring entrepreneurs.
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.
7. Re-organize your work-from-home 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, spend 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 eventually want to re-organize it as well. 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 of the pandemic. But, if you have some free time this summer, then that’s when you should attend as many events as possible. There are plenty of virtual events you can still attend that are valuable to you.
Not only will this get you out of your comfort zone, but it’s also a chance for you to learn new information or become aware of the latest trends. There’s also plenty of online 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?”
When you find yourself less busy, you can finally answer those questions about your goals. 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 while that means getting out of Dodge and going on a vacation, that is probably not the best option right now. However, consider a stay-cation and prioritize time with your family.
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.
Since we can’t all go on an exotic vacation right now, then plan a local family camping getaway for the weekend. And, as mentioned above, 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.