Avoid the summer slump - how to stay focused at work
Ahh, summer is almost here. Beach days, barbecues, bonfires, air conditioning, and oh yeah – work. While the summer months can bring about some of our favorite seasonally-focused activities, it also brings noticeable changes in the workplace and the way we work. For instance, studies have shown that when the summer season arrives, productivity in the workplace plummets by 20%, and distractions skyrocket by 45%. So that drowsy 3 pm feeling at work can actually feel even drowsier and slower throughout the summer.
Whether it’s the heat or the desire to be outdoors, don’t let the summer stop you from meeting your tasks and goals. We’re offering some of our top tips on how you can stay focused, productive, and motivated at work even when you would rather be on vacation.
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How to stay focused at work
While there are a lot of ways you can manage your time and track your productivity, there are also a few things your employer can do to help increase motivation and in turn, overall productivity. For example, simply adjusting the temperature of the air conditioner can have a huge impact on workplace performance during the summer. A survey found that 50% of offices are considered to be too hot and that employees spend almost 8.5 minutes per day adjusting the office temperature. Understanding what type of temperature helps your employees feel comfortable can be the difference between a good work day and a great work day.
As we all learned during the pandemic, flexibility in the workplace is key. The introduction of Summer Fridays in the workplace in the 60s, which provides employees the opportunity to work half-days or take Fridays off, boost not only productivity but morale as well – which can often be just as important as positive morale impacts everyone in the workplace including their performance. In fact, 66% of employees who have summer Fridays feel they’re more productive throughout the week and summer months – not less.
It would definitely be worthwhile talking through the above with your team lead, manager, or your HR department to see what can be done to allow for a more flexible work environment. It will benefit not only you as the employee but the work you and your team/department produce in order to meet company goals.
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So, with that being said, let’s dive into some common practices on how you can stay focused and productive at work during the summer.
- Set Goals
In order to stay focused on your goals, you need to first set them. Having a clear outline and understanding of what it is you want to achieve on this day, throughout this week, month or quarter will be helpful in prioritizing tasks and delivering quality work. Setting a goal can look like creating a timeline for when you want to finish a certain task, blocking a timeout on your calendar where you dedicate that time for more critical tasks or creating and managing a to-do list. The most important part is being able to pinpoint what you want to accomplish and when you want to accomplish it so that you can stay on track.
- Block Distractions
It might seem too simple to be effective, but blocking out distractions can be one of the most beneficial methods of working productively. Try putting your phone in a separate area or out of eyesight so you don’t get tempted to check your messages. Mute notifications on your computer so each ping doesn’t take you away from your focus. If you’ve tried those methods before and didn’t find them to be successful, try using BlockSite’s Chrome Extension, where you can take all of your biggest digital distractions – like Facebook, Twitter, news sites, and more, and block them during your working hours. That way you’re eliminating the option to even do a ‘quick check’, which can sometimes turn into an hour of scrolling. Hey, it can happen to the best of us!
- Organize Your Space
A cluttered workspace or station might not seem like something that can have an effect on the way that you work, but trust us (and Harvard Business Review), it does. According to HBR, cluttered spaces can have negative effects on our stress, and anxiety levels, as well as on our ability to focus. To keep your work area tidy, whether you work from home, at an office, or in a hybrid model, consider using trays or cabinets to house paperwork and documents, and label each section so you know what lives where. Set a time once a week, or once every two weeks, to clean out your desk from old papers, and receipts, and completely wipe down the desk area.
- Interval Work
If you find yourself overwhelmed with the tasks of a day or week, try working in intervals. Set timers for specific tasks- whether it’s writing content or answering emails, spending 30 minutes to an hour helps you work hard for a certain amount of time which helps in pacing yourself for the remainder of the day and week and helps manage expectations and delivery.
- Reward Yourself
A little motivation goes a long way. Reward yourself when you finish a task. You don’t only have to reward yourself when the entire project is completed. Maybe you needed to create an outline for an onboarding document, or needed to work with multiple people’s schedules to deliver a presentation, or want to answer 10 emails– it doesn’t matter the size of the task, you can always find a way to reward yourself- big or small. Take yourself out for your favorite pastry or order your favorite meal. Allow yourself a Netflix binge after work as you check off each item and watch as your to-do list becomes a done list.
- Utilize Your Vacation Days
Sometimes the best way to increase your focus and productivity at work is to utilize your well-earned vacation days. Sometimes you just need a “reset” for your mind and a break from the daily tasks of your work. Taking a vacation can not only improve your mood but help you see things more clearly when you return back to the office and help you feel recharged. And let’s not forget, everyone deserves a vacation!
All in all, we will never fully have an environment free of distractions. We are human. Sometimes we want to look out the window, talk with our colleagues, or go out for a coffee, and there’s no harm in that. But now you are better equipped to manage the distraction that can really harm your performance at work. Try these tips out and discover what works for you so you can accomplish your goals more efficiently and enjoy that summer sun.