June 21 marks the official start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, but early June is my mental trigger. When the school buses stop rolling and planes are more filled than normal with families traveling, I feel myself start slipping into a different frame of mind. Historically, it’s also a time when your productivity can suffer because you have more activity in your schedule. Even arranging meetings and making decisions at work is challenging as people take more vacation time and aren’t as readily available. It can seem more frustrating than ever to get things done.
To make sure your summer doesn’t see a drop in productivity while the temperatures are rising, try these suggestions to stay on track professionally and personally:
Know everyone’s schedule. From coworkers to your boss, capture when they will be away from their normal routine. Review it periodically so you won’t get caught needing information from them when they aren’t available. Try and anticipate any scenarios where you might get stuck if you can’t communicate with them quickly and get answers from them now when possible. AND don’t forget to get your family’s entire schedule on your calendar as well. Knowing their schedule can help you plan for special activities with others (See bullet point, “Identify those…).
Communicate your schedule-often. An out of office auto reply is a start, but why not be more proactive? Create a signature for the bottom of your emails that lets others know when you will be out of the office. Who knows? One person may just read it and actually ask you something BEFORE it’s urgent.
Double your communication about timelines and deadlines. People are more distracted in the summer than ever and tend to miss details in communication. Don’t be afraid to send additional reminders, and vary the way you deliver these reminders.
Plan for individual talent development. Meetings tend to lessen (hopefully) in the summer months, and this opens new time resources to grow those around you. Whose performance could you focus on now that would pay off big dividends once things return to a more normal routine?
Manage your expectations outside of work. Summer offers the temptation to take on every home project under the sun. Trying to plan all the things that you need to do to make those projects successful can distract you from the present moment. Start by choosing 2-3 projects, finish them, and then plan other ones as time allows. Better a few done well than many waiting to be done at all.
Double the time you expect a project to take-then decide if you have the time to do it. I once began refinishing the deck at my home, and ran into several problems along the way. I didn’t budget enough extra time and found myself frustrated, cutting corners, and not happy with the finished results. If I had doubled the time I thought I needed, I would have recognized that I should wait until I did have the time resources to complete the project. And my family would have been less upset with me too.
Adjust your schedule when possible. If you’re a parent, it’s tough to frequently stay late at work when you know your children are longing to be enjoying time with you. Try getting to work 30-60 minutes early so you can free up some of that end of day time for them.
Identify those whom you have neglected the past few months, or those who have been on your mind. It might be a child, spouse, parent, or friend. By knowing your family’s schedule you can determine times when you could spend some much needed time with them, and not feel like you are neglecting the other relationships in your life.
Carve out some extended time for yourself. Plan a day trip, engage in (or find) your hobby, or just sleep. Give yourself permission to make yourself and your own needs important-because they are.
Did I mention that summer, unofficially, will be over in about 80 days (Labor Day is September 7)?
What steps will you take to ensure a productive summer?