01 May The Secret to Staying Focused on Work During the Summer
A drink in my hand, my snow up against the burning sand,Prob’ly getting gorgeously tanned in summer. I’ll finally see a summer breeze, blow away a winter storm. And find out what happens to solid water when it gets warm!And I can’t wait to see, what my buddies all think of me. Just imagine how much cooler I’ll be in summer.”
-Olaf the Snowman, “Frozen”, Disney, 2013
August is the most difficult month of the year to stay focused – it’s hot, your colleagues are on vacation, and your customers are at the beach – either literally or in their minds. So how do you stay focused on the job at hand? To answer that question, I asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs, what they do to stay focused on work in August. Here are their secrets, followed by my own:
1. Bring Your Team Outdoors
In the summer months I encourage my employees to get outdoors as much as they can. Everyone deserves a little fun in the sun once in a while. Giving your employees shorter Fridays can really kick-start their weekend and give them added rest in time for Monday. With that in mind, we built a backyard patio area for our office. It makes a great setup for a spontaneous lunchtime barbecue.
2. Keep to a Routine
Even in the summer months, I strive to keep a rather normal daily rhythm when it comes to work. I wake up at the same time I normally do, eat my breakfast and then put in about an hour of my most important work. This gives me the comfort that even if I happened to procrastinate the rest of the day, at least I already did the most important work I had planned for the day. Everything else is a bonus.
3. Plan for an Afternoon Escape
By 3 p.m. in summertime I’m crawling out of my skin to go do handstands in the park. Knowing this, I schedule all of my calls between 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and I make sure that I get my highest priority work done in super-efficiency mode before my calls start. That way, I can leave guilt-free by the afternoon to soak up those rays. If necessary, I’ll answer emails from my phone on the way home.
4. Reward Yourself
Reward yourself for getting things done with a summer activity such as a trip to the beach or an afternoon in the park. Having a reward for getting things done will be huge for motivating you. – Josh Weiss, Founder and President, Bluegala
5. Go on a Retreat
Our company incentivizes employees with contests to partake in team building outings. For example, we held a marketing competition where 20 winners got to go to the food and wine show in Atlantic City for the weekend. Our staff loves these competitions and they stay engaged throughout the summer.
6. Work Early Mornings and Late Evenings
A lot of people are anxious to get a bit of sun after lunch, myself included. Therefore, I make it a point to leave time during my afternoons to have some fun and enjoy myself before getting back to work. Breaking up my day also helps me be more productive at work, instead of grinding through 8 or 10 hours with only a few short breaks to eat and snack.
7. Schedule a Fun Summer Project
Summer is a great time for vacations and downtime, which can be perfect timing for a fun summer project. Start with a brainstorming session on ideas and look at past lists. Come up with a team project (reviewing competitors, uncovering trends, re-doing your website) where everyone can contribute. As an added bonus, allow for team members to present work internally to hone speaking skills.
8. Look Ahead
Warm weather keeps the serotonin flowing and my motivation peaked. As a business leader, my focus is always moving forward; calculating that next move in my business strategy, the next goal or benchmark to be achieved, the next great innovation. Looking ahead is how I find opportunities and possibilities. It also helps me avoid pitfalls. Summer is energizing for me. – Scott Petinga, Chairman and CEO, The Scott Petinga Group
As for my secret? Both of my companies, Likeable Media and LikeableLocal, participate in Summer Fridays. Knowing we’ll have Friday afternoons off allows us to focus and work harder Monday through Thursday and Friday morning. Then, on Friday afternoon, it’s happy hour or a trip to the beach for everyone.
Now it’s your turn. Which of these techniques have you and your team tried? How do you stay focused during August? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. And then, to paraphrase Olaf, just imagine how much more focused you’ll be, in summer!