Summer is one of the toughest seasons to stay focused. We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we’re almost entirely done with a new initiative but just can’t complete it because a major partner is away at the beach. Or, you might be ready to launch a new product but can’t get on a conference call with a vendor since her idea of summer Fridays is to be out of the office most days of the week.
Though it’s often hard to get colleagues to stay work-focused this time of year, there are a few things you can do to stay in touch with your to-do list. Here are six tips for maintaining your momentum this summer -- plus a few ways to play a little hooky, too:
1. Get the most out of your down time. If your industry tends to slow to a crawl during the summer, use this time for in-depth strategy sessions and for completing internal tasks that are harder to get to during the busy season, suggests Aron Susman, co-founder of TheSquareFoot, a commercial real estate firm in New York City. This includes testing new advertising strategies as well as reaching out to syndication partners, guest bloggers and organizations you can partner with for customer acquisition. “Your goal is to hit the ground running before Labor Day,” he says.
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2. Hit that to-do list. If there’s something you’ve been meaning to do to enhance your strategy but never seem to have the time to do it, summer is go-time. For example, use quieter summer days to find new and better ways to connect with your customers. "Maybe you’ve been thinking of developing an app but haven’t had the time to devote to it,” suggests Tony Mendes, director of the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of North Texas. "Summer is the perfect time to do it.”
3. Fuel up for fall. For some young treps, summer is the key time to get up and move around, ultimately breaking up the sedentary cycle of days spent at the computer. "We use the summer heat to our advantage to try and stay fit,” says Devanshi Nikki Garg, chief operating officer of Icreon Tech, a global IT consultancy in New York City. “We encourage our team to do a light workout right before work or take salsa lessons together.”
4. Alter your routine. The smallest changes in work environment can make a big different in motivation levels, especially as the mercury rises. “Research tells us that changing our environment can lead to a burst of fresh thinking and increased drive,” says Samuel R. Sommers, associate professor of psychology at Tufts University and author of Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World (Riverhead Books, 2011). Put this into action by working from a coffee shop for the afternoon or turning what’s usually a solo responsibility into a group effort, or vice versa.
5. Get out of the office and network. Since summer is the prime season for trade shows, conferences and networking opportunities, plan to attend at least one during this traditionally less-busy season. "Getting out and attending a conference will help you better understand the needs of your customers," Mendes says. "These conferences are also excellent ways to see what the competition is doing."
6. Plan local outings to regroup. To help keep your team revved to put in the long hours -- even while they’re getting constantly updated on friends’ summer fun plans -- try to come up with interesting (local) activities. “We do something touristy once a week to get out and clear our heads," says Max Ivan Rava, communications director of FwdHealth, a healthcare technology company in Chattanooga, Tenn. "We do this to, hopefully, find new inspiration or make new connections."
How do you stay focused during the lazy days of summer? Let us know your strategy in the comments section below.
Lambeth Hochwald is a freelance journalist, whose stories have appeared in magazines such as Coastal Living, O The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple and Redbook. She is also an adjunct professor at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.