For a holiday that’s supposed to be an opportunity to kick back and relax with your loved ones and some really good food, the Fourth of July can get surprisingly stressful.
The logistics always end up being complicated.
- Are you going to a party? Multiple parties?
- Hosting something yourself?
- What’s the parking situation?
- What if it rains?
- What if you overcook the burgers or run out of red, white and blue desserts?
- If you have kids running around near water, who’s supervising?
Then there are July 4th fireworks, which can be hugely stressful for a lot of people including veterans suffering with PTSD and people with anxious dogs or horses. And when the Fourth is over, another kind of stress sets in: the “yikes, summer is really underway” kind of stress.
The start of July means that fall is suddenly just two months away. All those things that you want to get done this summer? They need to start happening now or you’re going to run out of time. Your summer productivity and time management plans need to be in place now. The family’s summer schedule needs to be locked down. Your vacation and travel plans have to be finalized so you can make the work plans that let you take that time off without being totally overwhelmed when you get back.
Like the Fourth itself, we tend to equate “summer” with “relaxation” when the reality can be anything but. Stress doesn’t take a vacation in July and August. If you’re going to truly enjoy the summer and feel engaged and present instead of overwhelmed, managing your summer stress is key.
What’s at the root of your summer stress right now?
Things may have already started piling up at work because this is your busiest time of year, or because you haven’t done enough time management planning in advance of the holiday and you’re scrambling to get things done.
Perhaps the week after the Fourth will be your first chance to sit down and really look back at Q2, and you know that you’re not going to love what you see. If you struggled with productivity or didn’t hit your targets, now you have to figure out how to make Q3 better, and that’s daunting.
Maybe you have young kids at home and the end of the holiday weekend means it’s time to deal with new complications to your family’s schedule. Childcare and transportation plans can shift week to week in summer and it’s a ton to manage when you’re also trying to get everything done at work.
It’s possible that you’re someone who just really doesn’t like summer! If you hate the heat, live in a town that gets flooded with tourists or have other reasons to dislike summertime, those feelings are going to add a layer of stress to everyday life this time of year.
Summer stress is unavoidable—so how can you use time management to minimize yours this year?
There are some common misconceptions about time management and productivity. Like the idea that improving your time management is all about getting more done at work.
In reality, good time management should enrich every area of your life. Good time management should help you get enough sleep, enough exercise, enough family time, enough free time, enough time to pursue hobbies and continuing education…. In short, enough of whatever you need to lead a fulfilling life.
And, good time management helps you knock your stress down to a manageable level. As a professional with adult responsibilities, eliminating stress altogether is probably not a realistic goal, even when you’re on summer vacation. But when you know that you’re using your time thoughtfully and strategically, you’ll enjoy the confidence and comfort that come with feeling like you’re in charge of your life instead of stuck on a roller coaster that you can’t control.
3 Action Steps for Minimizing Summer Stress
#1. Identify some go-to stress busters that you can rely on.
What are some simple activities and experiences that help you diffuse stress in your life this summer? Think about things you can do in five- or 10-minute increments like meditating, taking a quick walk or swim, listening to a favorite podcast, playing with a pet, or reaching out to a friend who always makes you laugh. Write down a literal list of quick stress-busters if it helps and put it somewhere you can see from your desk. When you notice stress starting to build up, grab the list and give yourself a quick break with one of those activities.
#2. Consider adjusting your summertime media diet.
The news cycle constantly filled with stressful updates, and scrolling through social media can add to your summertime stress too. Being inundated with images of people having picture-perfect barbecues and hiking trips and beach vacations while you’re stuck at your desk is probably going to add to the pressure you feel to have a “perfect” summer too. Notice if you feel more stressed after checking news sites and social media. If so, think about setting limits for how often you check these sites or how much time you allow yourself to spend on them each day.
#3. Use prominent visuals to remind yourself how much you’ve gotten done, and reassure yourself that you have a plan for dealing with the things you still need to do.
Summer can get so chaotic that you lose sight of the big picture. You want to be able to disconnect from work and fully enjoy your personal time. But that’s hard to do when you’re running through a mental list of all the things you still have to get done. Quieting those stressful thoughts lets you stay present in whatever you’re doing. Using tools like a giant wall calendar or whiteboard gives you a place to cross off every task you complete and keep track of all the tasks you still need to get to. Those big visual reminders should reassure you that you’ve collected your thoughts somewhere so things aren’t going to slip through the cracks. You don’t have to stress that you’re going to forget to do something important when you know that it’s written down in big letters on your wall.
Need more support with time management and productivity?
If you’re craving a balanced, low-stress summer but have absolutely no idea how to make that your reality, I can help. The first step is to schedule a Time Matters Strategy Session. During your one-on-one Strategy Session, we’ll work together to assess where your core time management challenges lie and talk about what the next right steps might be. Applying takes two minutes and could be the turning point for transforming your summer, so there’s nothing to lose! Click here to apply for your (no-cost!) Strategy Session.