Welcome to summer! The kids are out of school. The temperatures are climbing. The allure of the beach, the mountains, or your outdoor haven of choice is beckoning. You’re thinking about the warm sun on your face. Then the phone rings, pulling you back into the reality that is your desk and the pile of work sitting upon it.
Summer longing aside, listen to this: Carving out time away from the office (and the work that goes on in it) will benefit you. Science is in your corner on this one. Research says you’ll be more focused and productive when you return – not to mention, it’s good for your health, too. Here’s the better news: You can balance the call of summer and the benefits of downtime with your need to get work done.
You’ve got vacation days. Use them. Of Americans who do make use of the vacation time allocated to them, July and August are the most popular times to get away or to create the ultimate staycation. Can’t grab a full week right now? Try a weekend getaway. Even a two-day recharge can hit the spot.
It could be easy to fill your weekend with all the tasks that didn’t get done during the work week: work projects, house projects, and errands. While those things may still need to find a place in your calendar, don’t let them take over completely. Devote one day each weekend to something purely fun. Explore hiking trails in your area. Read that book you’ve been meaning to devour while lying in a hammock in your own yard. Just relax and enjoy the summer day.
Lunch al fresco
If you’re in the habit of taking lunch at your desk while you work, now is the perfect time to break it. Your productivity and energy levels will benefit from the time away from your work. Trust me on this one. Use your lunch time to soak up the sun. Bring your lunch outdoors and savor it. Take a walk. Visit a local park and dip your toes in the lake. Just get outside and recharge.
Think summer hours
Some companies switch to a summer schedule that gives their staff the option of shorter work days on Fridays or Fridays off. If that’s you, awesome! If it’s not, that’s okay. If you’re putting in extra hours on a regular basis, consider moving that over time to your morning. Show up early, leave on time and enjoy the longer days. If you’ve got a flexible schedule, start a practice of beginning your day early so you can wrap it up earlier.
Use your morning
Get up earlier. Before you groan, hear me out. If you’ve got kids, you may have a “school year alarm” and a “summer alarm.” Before you gift those minutes to your alarm clock, consider using them to enjoy warm summer mornings. Start your day off with coffee on the patio or a walk around your neighborhood.
The tech that helps us work more efficiently can also keep us tethered to our tasks after hours. Use summer as time to break that habit. Shut the phone off. Stop checking email. Get outside. Enjoy the summer evening. Chase fireflies with the kids. Take a sunset walk. Push away the distractions and get outside!