7 Cures for Sagging Productivity Blues: The Summer Slump

Instead of agonizing about the inevitable decline ahead, think long-term. Summer provides the time off you need to recharge your mental and emotional batteries, get some physical rest, and reconnect with family and friends.As the mercury begins to rise, the American worker’s thoughts turn fondly to fun in the sun… and you know what that means. Soon, you’ll face one of the great banes of business performance: the dreaded summer slump. With upcoming vacations to serve as slow-downs, the season isn’t likely to serve as a shining beacon of productivity for your team.

Instead of agonizing about the inevitable decline ahead, think long-term. Summer provides the time off you need to recharge your mental and emotional batteries, get some physical rest, and reconnect with family and friends.

Here are seven ways to cut a summer slump off at the pass:

  1. Take a long vacation. Americans still lag far behind the rest of the industrialized world in terms of vacation time; most Europeans get as long as a month or more to “go on holiday.” My brother Paul had *unlimited* vacation time when he worked for GE, and he certainly took advantage of it. He was able to take weeks of vacation at a time and still maintain his rankings and sales in his team. While you almost certainly won’t have that option, don’t leave vacation days on the table, as so many people do.
  2. Make your vacation a big deal. Make extravagant plans. Put the date on your calendar in bold red letters. Keep little reminders around, especially as the day approaches. Whether you’re going on a “staycation” at home or an expensive cruise, think of how much fun you’ll have! Don’t overdose on daydreaming, but do anticipate your happy time with friends and family, so you’ll elevate your mood and float right through the slump period with your productivity on high.
  3. Take care of yourself. Self-care is especially important during the days you’d rather stare out the window and daydream than sling code or write reports. Getting enough sleep, keeping your weight down, eating responsibly, exercising, and hydrating properly will help you stay so alert you’ll have no choice but to stay busy.
  4. Turn up the air conditioning or get a fan. Who wants to work where it’s hot and sticky? Hot weather can have nasty effects on the emotions, making people agitated, tired, and lackluster. Find ways to stay cool or convince the powers-that-be to keep the office cool (without making it uncomfortably frigid like it is in some hotels). If you’re one of the powers, don’t be an AC miser. You’ll lose in productivity more than what you save in energy costs.
  5. Consider telecommuting. As long as you have the appropriate technology, why not work remotely occasionally if your company allows it? You might be more productive in familiar surroundings because you don’t have to deal with the heat as often. You can start work early and end early to take advantage of that sunshine.
  6. Reward productivity. Whether you’re the leader or a team member, encourage your teammates and yourself to work harder with some sort of reward—free ice cream, lunch, Friday afternoons off, or whatever works for your group. The team can actually work together on this to keep each other happier.
  7. Plan ahead. Well before your vacation time comes up, ask a few of your co-workers for help while you’re away and familiarize them with your projects. Update them as necessary. If you can get permission from your leader, find a partner who will cover your projects while you’re away in return for covering theirs during their own time off. Ask about other’s plans and get projects done in advance of them leaving. Make sure you and your leader stay on the same page regarding your vacation.

Make it happen

It may seem like tradition to let yourself lag during the summertime, but we Americans have a reputation for bucking tradition. Just accept the fact that summer’s on its way, and don’t let the old ways of thinking weigh you down. You really can have your cake and eat it too, when the cake stands for vacation fun and the eating represents high productivity.

Laura Stack

Laura Stack

Laura Stack is America's premier expert in personal productivity. For over 20 years, her speeches and seminars have helped professionals, leaders, teams, and organizations improve output, execute efficiently, and save time at work. She's the author or coauthor of 10 books, most recently, What to Do When There's Too Much to Do. To invite Laura to speak at your next meeting or register for her free weekly newsletter, visit TheProductivityPro.com

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