Working in the good old summertime

These 7 tips will help you remain productive during the dog days of summer.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

During the summer months, when the sun is shining and there are plenty of fun activities going on, it can be difficult to focus on getting things done. Personally, it’s more tempting to cut a workday short and hang out on the porch with a cocktail instead of sticking to the grind. To keep my productivity high during the warmer months, I did some research to find out what other people have done to avoid summer slacking. Here are some tips for working and playing hard this summer:

  1. Take meetings outdoors. Instead of meeting around a conference table, take a walk around the block and cover the items you need to discuss. If there are things you need to remember or that you would usually take notes on, use your voice recorder on your cell phone. Better yet, use Google Voice, a free service that can transcribe your voice memos.
  2. Give yourself a mid-year review. Instead of waiting until the end of the year to discover whether you accomplished your goals, take time to reflect on your annual goals, review your progress, and make a game plan with clearly defined steps. If you’re falling behind, a mid-year review can get you back on track.
  3. Act yourself into more action. If this sounds a little confusing, let me explain. Many times, people don’t take action to make progress because they aren’t in the mood or “don’t feel like it.” However, if you start taking action, even on things you don’t feel like doing, you gain momentum. For example, if you aren’t in the mood to exercise at the gym, pack your bag and drive there after work. Once you start running, you might feel compelled to run an extra mile because you “acted yourself into taking more action.”
  4. Set time blocks. Having large open blocks of time on your calendar creates the illusion that you can push off certain tasks because you will have time to do them later. Instead of procrastinating and not accomplishing the tasks you should during the day, set mini blocks of time for each item on your to-do list. For example, from 11 a.m. to noon, send prospecting emails. From noon to 1 p.m., work on a forthcoming presentation. Even small tasks such as making a follow-up call or responding to an email should be scheduled on your calendar to ensure they are completed in a timely manner.
  5. Identify your top three priorities. Before the end of the workday, identify the top three things you need to accomplish the next day. It will help you prepare and prioritize where your attention should be focused. Don’t end the workday until the next day’s top three priorities are identified.
  6. Less coffee, more water. I know, I know — you need coffee to survive, but actually the caffeine that gives you a quick boost of energy in the morning is also a natural diuretic that can leave you dehydrated. Dehydration leads to lower energy and less ability to focus on tasks, so as part of your daily routine, fill a water bottle and drink its contents. If you get bored of the taste, try adding a little coconut water for added flavor and extra potassium!
  7. Take a break. Research has shown that taking periodic breaks throughout the day helps increase your productivity. So schedule a few 10- to 15-minute breaks, breathe some fresh air, or take a walk around the office. This will help you refocus and battle stress on those extremely busy days!

With these tips, you should be on your way to a productive and enjoyable summer! Shoot me an email at to let me know what productivity strategies you are employing this summer.

Jenna Atkinson is the president of CONNECT Madison, a young professionals group offering development, community engagement, and relationship-building opportunities to local business leaders.

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