Which is worse: a case of the Mondays, or a case of the Summer Fridays? There’s always the coffee cure for that groggy feeling as you drag your feet to work on Mondays, but what about the long slow burn of the summer Fridays, when you’re surrounded by empty desks of people on vacation? Whether it’s the summer heat, the creeping envy of coworkers on vacation, or just the call of the outdoors, staying motivated and productive this time of year can be a challenge. Here are 5 ways to beat the summer blahs, stay focused, and enjoy your work more.
Reaching a goal you’ve worked hard for can make you feel a great sense of accomplishment. So why not get this feeling in smaller doses to help give you a boost throughout the day? Making a list of small goals—even “get coffee”—can help you get focused and get the ball rolling on the tasks you need to do. Checking something off your list can also help you feel productive and organized. Even better: set time goals. Turn your task into a small challenge. What can you get done in the next 15 minutes? To stay truly productive, schedule the next hour, the whole morning, and the rest of the day.
But make sure you also schedule some break time. You may find yourself avoiding work to think about all the fun coworkers are having on vacation as you sit in your ghost town of an office, or to start planning out your ideal beach weekend. Use this tendency to daydream to your advantage by making it strategic. Letting yourself daydream (on a time limit) can refresh you and help you refocus before you go back to your work. It’s better to give yourself planned breaks rather than let your mind wander all day. And whatever you do, stay off social media (scrolling through posts of other people’s sunsets and palm trees won’t help you stay motivated).
We’re not rats in a maze, but we are motivated to act by reward centers in our brains. If you’re absolutely burnt out at work and wishing you could take the day off and enjoy the sun, make your break times, evenings, and weekends count. Treat yourself by splurging on a really great lunch. Go to a movie after work. Rest well. Buy a new outfit as if you were taking a vacation. Plan a day trip for the upcoming weekend. Cost and time can prohibit you from actually going to the Bahamas, but even simply planning something you will enjoy later can boost your mood now—helping you be more productive in your everyday routine.
Switch up your routine
Speaking of the everyday routine: if you just find yourself wishing you were elsewhere, bring a little something different into your everyday. Listen to calypso music on headphones or drink a nonalcoholic frozen pineapple beverage with your lunch. Even get an iced coffee instead of hot coffee. Walk a different way to work. One thing a vacation does is break up the everyday routine and give you a change of scenery – you can do this on a small scale. Let something in your day feel a little different to make the summertime special, even within your office walls.
Bring the outdoors in
Similarly, if you are yearning to go outdoors in the sun, bring some nature into your office space. Listen to some ocean waves. Buy yourself a plant or some flowers for your desk. Look at pictures of nature or places you want to go. Spending a weekend on the beach can be restorative, but simply looking at nature can also actually make you calmer.
Acknowledging your desire to be elsewhere will help you be more productive then trying to ignore it. Tapping into the small things that can help keep you motivated and help break up the rut will help you get through those long summer days.