Blogs & Comment

How to survive summer distractions

Wondering how to get work done when your mind's already on the patio? Here's some advice.

(Photo: Image Source)

The simple thought of summer is what keeps most Canadians motivated as they slog through seven months of winter. How could anyone endure the heavy parkas, twilight at 4 pm, umbrellas blown inside out, wet socks and eyelashes frozen together without the promise of bronzed skin peeking out from dresses, leisurely walks around the farmer’s market, jumping into icy lakes at the cottage and short-lived fiery romances?

Unfortunately, unlike many of our Europe brethren who get all of August off, most Canadians still have to report daily to work.

But how are we supposed to focus when all we can think about is that icy cold beer beckoning us from the patio?

To get some tips, we spoke to Professor Piers Steel at the Haskayne School of Business and author of The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done.

1.      Remove Temptation

If you have a career where things just have to get done, then pretend it’s not summer out.  Work at a place away from a window and get an air conditioner. It’s like being on a diet – why bother if you still have a bowl of candy on your desk? Removing the temptation makes you more likely to succeed.

2.     Play Hard

The more you allow yourself time to play, the less you feel like you’re missing out, and the more you’ll be able to focus on work. So make sure to schedule in time to enjoy the summer. Whether that means eating your lunch outside, going to the cottage on the weekend or taking a walk in the park, don’t forget to make time to relish the sunshine. The leaves will fall soon enough.

3.     Be Flexible

Or rather, ask your organization to be flexible. Many organizations already have summer hours, and if they don’t, see if they’d be willing to let you work four 10 hours days and have Fridays off.  If your organization already allows its workers to leave at 1 pm every Friday, for example, take advantage of it. Don’t be a martyr and work until five if office policy allows you to leave early on a sunny Friday.  

4.     Expect Less

Don’t expect your summer productivity levels to be the same as your winter ones. Ideally, Steel said, you should schedule projects so that you work harder in the winter to allow some slack in the summer.  It’s unreasonable to expect that we can work at the same level in both seasons, so accept this.