Every season brings challenges that make it hard to get work done. In the autumn, there’s too much rain and the days are getting shorter. In the winter, it’s too cold and there’s not enough sunlight. Spring brings allergies and nice weather, a deadly combination for productivity. And in the summer, well, it’s just too hot to work. These are not just idle musings of procrastinators—these things can and do affect people’s ability to work, to a greater or lesser extent. And seeing how we currently find ourselves in the summer, it’s the perfect time to remind ourselves of some tips that can help us stay productive despite the heat and the sun and fun we’re not having because we’re at work.
1 Keep it cool, but not too cool. Believe it or not, and you surely will, the temperature in your workspace can affect your performance. This is obvious when you have to work at near-freezing temperatures, or if you’re unlucky enough to do your job somewhere extremely hot. But, as shown in this great infographic from LifeHacker, people are most productive at temperatures between 70 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Do you air-condition? You should if you want to stay productive during the summer.
2 Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is important during the whole year, but even more so during the summer, when we lose more fluids than usual (especially if we can’t follow tip number 1). Keep your fluid levels up to avoid feeling sleepy and lightheaded.
3 Change your surroundings. Even if most of your work has to be done in the same office during the whole year, try to find a way to get as much out of it as you can during the summer. If you have team meetings, try to organize them somewhere outside the office, for example. The new surroundings might prove stimulating.
4 How about a picnic lunch? Keeping with the theme of changing your surroundings, maybe spending your lunchtime having a picnic with your coworkers would do the trick? It will get you out of the office, and the nice weather will give you a much-needed jolt of energy.
5 Mind what you eat. The general slowing down that happens during the summer is sometimes called the “summer slump.” Funnily enough, there’s also a similar phenomenon called the “post-lunch slump.” And you don’t need to combine the two, do you? Keep your lunches light, nourishing, and easy to digest.
6 Begin your days earlier. Mornings are not the warmest part of the day, and you should take advantage of that. Especially if you find heat really irritating—in that case, getting up early and finishing a large chunk of your work before the hottest part of the day is a good strategy for you.
7 Try a new productivity technique. Some productivity techniques are so complex that you need to read a series of books to learn how to implement them. Others, like the Pomodoro technique, are simple enough to be explained in a single sentence. Maybe one of them will be just the thing you need to keep your levels of productivity up during the summer. You won’t know until you try.
8 Aim for the head. It’s always a good idea to tackle the hardest tasks of the day first. In the summer, it seems even more important—as time passes and they day gets hotter, your energy levels drop.
9 Don’t forget to take regular breaks. The Pomodoro technique advises five-minute breaks after every twenty-five minutes of working. After the fourth work block, you take a fifteen-minute break, and then you start all over. You might need to adjust the length of the intervals a bit, but the general idea stays the same—take regular breaks.
10 Don’t forget to stretch. For everyone who works in front of a computer, this tip is good all year round. Stretch for at least a couple of minutes every hour. No explanation needed.
11 Sacrifice some time on Fridays to leisure. This one’s for the managers—if you want to keep productivity levels up during the summer, try to shorten the working day on Friday by a couple of hours. Give your team an incentive to work harder during the week.
12 Take the opportunity for increased flexibility if it presents itself. If your boss offers to let you work from home during the summer or suggests flexible working hours, give it some thought. If you see an advantage for yourself, give it a shot. Maybe you have a nice garden you can work from during the summer. Or maybe you can get to the office a couple of hours earlier in the morning but also go home earlier.
13 Set multitasking to “off.” If you’re finding it hard to concentrate on work during the summer, maybe you should give up on multitasking. Do one thing at a time, and make sure you’re doing it right.
14 What gets measured gets managed. You don’t need a complex tool to measure your productivity—a simple to-do list can give you insight into how much work you were able to get done. If your productivity levels are not satisfactory, you’ll know that you need to change something.
15 Take a vacation. All work and no play makes everyone a very dull person. Don’t forget to go play.