Have you been to any graduations these last few weeks? Planning on attending any weddings this summer?
Events like graduations and weddings change the way people think about time management. They often shift the way we prioritize work vs. personal time, right?
For example, say you have plans on a Friday night. The week turns out to be crazy, so by Friday afternoon your inbox is full and your to-do list is longer than ever. You’re behind schedule and there are so many more tasks you need to get done… but you planned to be done with work exactly at 5 p.m.
If you’re going to a relative’s graduation or a friend’s wedding, you’re probably still going to leave at 5. Everything will get done another day; that event is only going to happen once. It’s important that you enjoy that personal time and make memories with the people you love.
But if your plans are for dinner with friends, or a visit to the driving range, you might not hesitate to cancel them to stay at work. Busy professionals have so much to do that it already feels like there’s not enough time to get things done, even when you work 50+ hours a week and answer emails all weekend. Sometimes you have to skip the family outing because a client wants a last-minute call. Maybe you have to miss the Tuesday night book club (again) because you end up working too late to make it. You might not get done with work in time to meet your friends for happy hour.
Before you know it, months have gone by.
You’ve gotten a ton done at work… but you don’t have any recent memories of fun family outings to look back on. You haven’t seen your friends or finished a book or done anything that’s just for you. A whole season has passed you by.
This summer, what if you protected your personal time the same way you’d protect your time for an event like a wedding?
It might require a shift in the way you think about planning, time management and productivity. Instead of work coming first by default, it might have to take a backseat to your personal life sometimes—and that means you have to use your work time efficiently, so the most important stuff still gets done.
Wouldn’t it be nice to make plans for some fun summer activity this week and know that you’re going to make it happen, no matter how busy work gets this week? Wouldn’t it feel great to think about the next two months and know that you’re going to make time to do everything you want to do this summer? That the season isn’t going to pass you by while you’re busy working?
While I’m on the subject of not letting summer pass you by…
How’s your summer bucket list coming?
You might have read my recent blog about creating a summer bucket list. It forces you to get really clear about what you want your summer to look like. We all have a general notion that we want to have a “fun” summer, but “fun” means different things to all of us. What are your must-do activities and experiences for this season? Even if your idea of a perfect summer activity is as simple as taking a nap in the backyard hammock, put it on your summer bucket list.
If you didn’t write out a summer bucket list yet, do it now.
Make a physical list that you can put on your fridge or see from your desk. We all know how summer gets away from us. A list jotted down on the Notes app can be closed and forgotten until September, but a physical list (maybe written with brightly colored ink and everything!) posted prominently is hard to ignore.
And if you already created your summer bucket list—excellent! How’s it going? Have you been able to cross things off that list already? Or… did you get so busy that you forgot to do anything with it?
Creating a summer bucket list is step one in your quest to make the most out of summer.
Step two is even more important: Get those list items into your calendar. Turn them from theoretical activities into action items. Plan them in advance, the same way you would plan to attend a wedding or graduation.
There may also be a step three for you: Protecting that time, again the same way you would protect time scheduled for a wedding or graduation. Maybe something important comes up at work just before you planned to take off for a family pool party, or a barbecue at a friend’s lake house. Ask yourself: If I were planning to leave right now in order to make it to a wedding, would I still go or would I stay here and keep working? Unless it’s something truly urgent, you’d probably go to the wedding—and you should probably go to the pool party or the barbecue too. Work will always be waiting but summer will be over before you know it.
3 Tips for Not Letting Summer Pass You By
1. Set a weekly reminder on your phone to look at your bucket list. Cross off anything you’ve done, remind yourself of what’s left to be done and add new things as they come up.
2. Consider your work/life balance when you’re looking at your plans and calendars for the summer. Make sure you feel good about the way you’re splitting time between your professional goals and your personal goals.
3. Commit to something right now. Today. When you’re done reading this blog. Buy the ticket to that festival or game or concert you want to attend. Call a friend you’ve been meaning to call and get a dinner planned. Or pick something from your summer bucket list to schedule for sometime in the next week. We’re only going to get one summer this year, so make it count.
If you could use more support with time management and productivity, consider joining me for Time Mastery.
Starting July 1, Time Mastery is a yearlong program I run for a small group of entrepreneurs and professionals who are all committed to making lasting change so they can stop wasting time and start living the lives they crave. Click here to learn more.
Get out there and enjoy your summer!