Have you recovered from July 4th yet? Or from your first vacation of the summer?
Even though the summer is filled with traditions and events that are supposed to be about taking a break from work to focus on family and fun… busy professionals know the real truth: Summer is only relaxing for kids who are out of school. For adults it’s business as usual, plus some challenges that are unique to this time of year.
Time Management Gets Harder in Summer.
Unless you’re a ski instructor or teacher, work probably doesn’t slow down for you in summertime. (And anyone who knows a teacher, knows they don’t really get a full summer break.) All the time management and productivity challenges that exist for you in February or October are still showing up for you in July.
But for a lot of us, there are so many extra stressors in summer. Having young kids at home always makes this time of year especially complicated. Your family routine might shift from week to week depending on who’s going to what camp or babysitter. Kids might be staying up later and sleeping in later, affecting your daily schedule too. Having kids home all day is an added distraction for parents who work from home.
Your spouse and other family members’ schedules could also pull you in multiple directions during summer. Maybe your spouse is going to be out of town for a few different weekend golf trips, leaving you in charge of everything at home. Or your siblings are trying to get everyone together for a reunion but the only weekend that works for everyone else is in the middle of your busiest time at work. You probably also have weddings, barbecues, birthday parties and/or other summer social events filling your calendar. I know many people whose summer weekends are completely booked before the season even begins.
Let’s be clear: Most of these “stressors” are also good things! Getting to spend more time with kids, other family and friends is a huge part of why we love summer. Having too many people want to spend time with you is a great problem. But even when you’re doing things you enjoy (like checking off items from your summer bucket list) being in “go mode” for weeks on end will lead to burnout. That’s not good for your physical or mental health, and it’s really not good for time management and productivity.
Creating Moments of Peace Helps You Reset & Refocus For Better Productivity.
When work, family/friends and your own summer bucket list are all pulling you in opposite directions, it’s easy to lose track of the big picture and do everything halfway. You end so swamped at work that you have to answer emails during the family beach trip, and everyone’s grumpy because you’re distracted. Or, you’re scrambling to get through your to-do list in time for an afternoon swim or bike ride, but that means you don’t have time to take a call from an old friend.
There’s just always so much to balance. The more things you try to balance at once, the harder time management can feel.
When you’re overwhelmed by summer stress, I want to challenge you to think of three little words:
Practice the Pause.
Practice the Pause is a simple strategy I often teach to clients who need help with time management and productivity challenges. It’s a quick way to ground yourself and check in with yourself. While you’re breathing deeply, ask yourself whether what you’re currently doing is what you want to continue doing when your “pause” is over. If you find that, no, your current activity isn’t what you want to continue doing, put it aside and move into something else.
The “something else” might be another important work task… or, it might be a few minutes of doing nothing but breathing and relaxing until the feeling of overwhelm passes. When your mind and body both feel more peaceful, you’re ready to jump back into the summer chaos with renewed energy.
3 Tips for Creating Peace This Summer
#1: Get clear about the specific activities that are restorative and stress releasing for you.
When you’re overwhelmed and need to immediately create a sense of peace, what can you do in 10 minutes that will make a big difference? Maybe it’s yoga, walking around the block, calling a loved one, petting the dog, listening to a particular musical artist, creating art—there are any number of quick and easy activities that might help you feel calmer and more centered in times of chaos or stress. Jot down a list of the things that actually work for you so you can quickly pick one from the list anytime you feel you need to take a break.
#2: Set alarms for random times throughout the day to remind yourself to take time to pause.
If an alarm goes off when you’re in the groove with work and you don’t need a break, just ignore it. But you might find that you’re often tense with stress when the alarm goes off, and that you actually could use a 5-minute break to improve your productivity when you sit back down to work.
#3: Build nature into your “peaceful pauses.”
Like I wrote about in a recent blog, blending outdoor time with work can boost your mood and productivity. Finding time to get outdoors sometimes falls by the wayside when you’re really busy with work and feel like you shouldn’t leave your desk. When you feel overwhelmed (or your “pause alarm” goes off), walk outdoors and stand with your face to the sun while you breathe and think about what you’re going to do next. Take a few extra minutes to feel present in nature before you move into your next task.
Need some extra time management and productivity support? Don’t have a lot of free time in your busy summer?
Check out 3 Keys to Getting Started on the Important Things.
This is a free training to help you quickly figure out why you’re not getting the most important things done and how to break through and take control of your time. I know summer’s chaotic, so I condensed these 3 key steps into 4 quick videos. Each is no longer than 8 minutes—just long enough to watch when you need a quick break to refocus. Click here to access this free training.
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