Warm, sunny evenings can do a lot of good for the soul. After months of being cooped up at home, getting outdoors and engaging with all your favorite summer time activities feels like a tremendous relief and a return to some kind of normalcy.  

But nothing can make us forget that we’re living through a pandemic with no end in sight. Back in March, when the country was just shutting down and many places had snow in the air, summer seemed incredibly far off. Now, at long last, it’s here—and it might not feel quite right.  

Keeping focus and working productively through the summer has always been challenging. This summer, there are some extra obstacles that might show up for you.  

Time Management can be Extra Tough During Summer 

Any kid who has ever attended summer school can attest that concentrating on work often just seems harder in July than in January. There are a bunch of possible scenarios that could be interfering with your ability to focus and work productively this summer.  

You have young kids to keep busy. 

Distance learning was tough for parents of young kids, but at least it brought some structure to the days. Without all the normal camps and other childcare options, working parents have an extra element of stress to deal with this summer. Making sure that kids are supervised and safe has to be a top priority. Time management and the ability to focus on YOUR stuff naturally gets set aside.  

Your travel plans have been dashed. 

Some people are finding safe and creative ways to get out of town. Others are looking ahead to a long summer stuck at home. Maybe this is the first year in a decade that you won’t get to travel to your favorite beach town. Or, you can’t stop thinking about the European vacation you’re supposed to be on right now. For those people who normally use summer to visit far-away loved ones, being unable to travel this year is especially painful.  

The weather is affecting your productivity. 

Summer has always been a tough season for productivity and good time management. That challenge is still there this year, in addition to all the extra pandemic-related challenges. It’s hard to concentrate if your home office is stifling, or if it’s the perfect day to go kayaking or swimming but you’re stuck indoors with a pile of work.  

Your business changes during summer.

Depending on the nature of your work, summer might be a time when things dramatically slow down. Or, it may intensify to the point that you’re overwhelmed. Any changes to your workflow will naturally affect your normal time management strategies and ability to focus.  

You’re struggling emotionally with everything that’s going on. 

States are continuing to open up, and some people are behaving as if the corona-virus is behind us. But we’re still very much in a pandemic. Everyone’s health is still at risk. Black Lives Matter protests continue, and there’s no escaping political tension in this country. We’re still living with constant stress.  

I want you to know that it’s normal to feel emotionally overwhelmed right now, even if the sun is shining. 

This is a summer unlike any that has ever come before. Continue to be gentle with yourself, and acknowledge everything that’s getting in the way of your productivity. Trying to block out everything happening around you to grind through your to-do list won’t work because there’s just too much happening to ignore.  

Achieving productivity this summer requires time management strategies that pull you into your important tasks. 

Here are some ideas to get you started: 

  • Get clear on one thing you’d like to complete by the end of the day and WHY you care about it. Understanding why some thing is important helps us take action, even if it is something mundane. 
  • Get started with a brief morning huddle. Connect virtually with a buddy or team-mates and declare what you will complete by the end of the day and how you plan to do that.  
  • Set a meeting that will pull you into an important project early in the day. This will get you started first thing and help you focus on the important things.
  • Set up a virtual co-working time with a colleague. Be clear about what you will work on during the meeting. This works well with a video call or just the plain old speaker phone.  

Your time management strategies should also give you the space you need to process everything difficult happening around you. 

It sounds counter-intuitive, but taking that time can actually help you focus enough to then get more work done in fewer hours. This will leave you free to head outdoors and experience everything wonderful that this summer can bring.  

And remember that you’re not alone in your struggles right now. Reach out to me for one-on-one help figuring out what to do next. You can also join me on Sundays at 7 pm on Facebook for a live Community Call, where I’ll answer your questions in real time. Click here to find me on Facebook. 

Happy summer! 

Sarah 

Sarah Reiff-Hekking
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