In summertime especially, it’s easy to let the lure of everything outside the office (blue skies, birdsong, vacation plans) distract you from being productive in the office. Luckily, summer is also the best time to start taking steps to develop new habits that can last throughout the rest of the year.
To bolster productivity, try these tips:
Get up earlier. Giving yourself even just an extra 15 minutes in the morning can make a huge difference to how the rest of the day plays out. It might allow you to fit in a balanced breakfast, leave home without being in a stressed-out rush, and get to the office in time to set an attack plan for the tasks of the day. If getting up early scares you a little, try small increments at first, like five minutes earlier per week until you’ve gotten to 15—or more. Starting this habit in the summer is easier because of the amount of sunlight in the mornings; by the time winter (with its dark mornings) hits, you’ll already be acclimated to your get-up-earlier routine.
Drink water. And lots of it. Being properly hydrated helps your body function at its optimal level, helps you stay alert, and helps keep headaches at bay. Hydration is important at any time of the year, but in the summer, when many places across the country experience great humidity (and bodies feel less dried-out), it’s easy to forget to drink enough. Keeping a refillable water bottle with you at all times can remind you to get plenty of Water.
Get up and walk. Research shows that sitting too long has been linked to many health problems, can be an energy drain, and might even decrease problem-solving capabilities. Periodically walking to a coworker’s desk for an in-person discussion instead of sending an email, standing during telephone calls, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator are ways to break up the monotony of desk-sitting. Plus, if you can tack on a few minutes at a couple of those stretching breaks, you might be able to step outside and enjoy some fresh air and the summer weather.
If possible, take care of the tough things first. Letting that difficult conversation or daunting task hang above your head all day can drain you emotionally and mentally, which can make you under perform on some of the easier chores. If you can take care of the dreaded pieces first, you’ll be better equipped to breeze through those easy tasks, which could get you out of the office and enjoying that summer breeze on time.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but studies have shown that multitasking actually slows you down. Try to keep multitasking to a minimum—one way to start is to shut down all the apps, programs, and browser tabs you don’t need for the task at hand. You might find it’s easier to keep your mind on one project if you’re not bombarded with information about another. It will take some discipline—perhaps setting a task-completion timer can help. After all, some people find that working against a clock is motivational, and it can keep you aware of how much time you’ve spent on the project.
In all, greater productivity means that you are achieving more in the hours that you are in the office. And, especially in the summer, being able to leave work on time can mean a better chance to enjoy more of what the season has to offer.