13 Tips to Stay Motivated in the Dog Days of Summer
You may not want to admit it, but you're probably longing to take a dip in a pool instead of working. Unfortunately, an entrepreneur's 24/7 work schedule rarely allows for much of a summer break.
So, we went to the experts, including pro athletes, authors, happiness experts and, of course, entrepreneurs, to find out what they do to recharge. Read on for 13 ways to stay inspired to work hard this summer and even cull out a few minutes to decompress.
1. Power through it.
"It's tempting to take a break, to slow things down in the dog days of summer. But there's somebody out there who wants to be in your place. That person might be working on the next big thing that will compete with your business. That's the motivation: Keep working and you'll stay on top of your game."--Troy Vincent, former professional football player and current vice president of player engagement for the NFL
2. Make a (reasonable) list.
"Every night, jot down the things you need to get done the next day. Try to move through all of them, but if you don't, just add them to the next day's to-do list. Keep the list manageable during the heat of the summer and do your best to get a bit done every day."--Liz Lange, founder Liz Lange Maternity
3. Create your own "quitting time."
"It's tempting to work around the clock or at least to feel that you should be working--and that means that you don't have a feeling of leisure. By telling yourself, 'After 7:30, no more work' or 'Sunday is a day off,' you ensure that you get the rest and relaxation that are crucial to being productive. I remind myself, 'To keep going, I have to allow myself to stop.'"--Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (Harper Perennial, 2009) and the forthcoming, Happier at Home (Crown Archetype, 2012)
4. Indulge in small summer pleasures.
"No matter how much you have on your plate, keeping a folder of fun summer events nearby and scheduling one a week will help keep you from feeling cranky or like summer is passing you by. If that's too much, take a walk at lunch and stop by the ice cream truck. Indulging in small pleasures is very satisfying and energizing--but you really have to work at making this happen."--Kate White, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and author of the forthcoming I Shouldn't Be Telling You This (Harper Business, 2012)
5. Revisit your vision.
"In the day-to-day grind, vision can get lost, and entrepreneurs may end up miles off track. Take the summer to create a virtual vision board on Pinterest or with your team. When you write your vision down and keep it in front of you, it's harder to get off track."--Lain Hensley, CEO and founder of Odyssey Teams, a corporate team-building company
6. Take a breather.
"On days when you work harder, longer and produce the best results, take some time to take a break. I urge all the Olympic athletes I'm training to get outside to walk or play with the dog, do some gardening or just lounge in the sun. Your work will be even more fulfilling the next day."--Doug Graham, trainer, 2012 Olympics
7. Alter your routine.
"The smallest of changes in context make a big difference in motivation levels. In fact, research tells us that changing our environment can lead to a burst of fresh thinking and increased drive. Sure, jobs vary in terms of how flexible they are, but figure out a way to switch things up: Take a meeting or two outside. Work from a coffee shop for the afternoon. Turn what's usually a solo responsibility into a group effort, or vice versa."--Samuel R. Sommers, associate professor of psychology at Tufts University and author of Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World (Riverhead Books, 2011)
8. Follow the 15-minutes rule.
"Let's say there's a task that's hanging over your head. Resolve to work on this task for just 15 minutes. You can stand anything for 15 minutes and by working on it bit by bit, you can get a lot done. The hardest part is starting, and knowing that you can quit so soon makes the task a lot easier."-- Gretchen Rubin
9. Rethink your time zone.
"I live on the West Coast but keep East Coast hours, which means I regularly start my day at 6 a.m., engaging with New York. To make the day fly during the summer, I try to take 'work-ations' every now and then. I'll book all of my meetings on New York time--between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. This helps motivate me to get up early and work hard so that I can enjoy the rest of the day to play!"--Teri Gault, CEO and founder of the Grocery Game
10. Find ways to walk--wherever you can.
"When I work at my desk, I find myself getting sleepy, especially if it's hot and muggy. But when I work on my treadmill desk, which is simply a treadmill with my laptop perched on top, I feel energized. Walking raises your serotonin level, which is good for sharpening attention, and amazingly, walking and typing isn't that hard."--A.J. Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy (Simon & Schuster, 2012)
11. Offer incentives.
"Because entrepreneurship is a lifestyle, not a job, entrepreneurs are hard workers. But it always helps to come up with fun ways to keep everyone focused on the goals of the company, especially during the summer. Consider offering your employees things like happy hours, massages and healthy lunches."--Suki Shah, CEO and co-founder of GetHired.com
12. Expand your knowledge.
"As the owner of two businesses, I use summer to learn more about my clients and their needs. It helps me recharge, do better work in the process and keep my businesses moving in the right direction."--Chris Mulvaney, president, CMDS Marketing Agency
13. Never underestimate the power of an ice cream cone.
"I run my business from home and stay motivated to finish my tasks knowing I'll get to have an ice cream with my kids if I've put in a hard day's work."--Leslie Truex, owner of Work At Home Success and author of The Work-At-Home Success Bible (Adams Media, 2009)
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.