Summer SlumpThink back to when you were in school and the end of the year was getting close… usually that never-ending period after spring break.  Remember daydreaming about summer vacation, sleeping in, and no homework? Now that you’ve grown up, you may not be fortunate enough to get a summer break every year, but our minds and bodies tend to have a hard time accepting that fact.  Research has shown that without a doubt, many working adults tend to suffer a “summer slump” just as school-age kids approaching the end of the school year.  As a matter of fact, 1 in 4 office workers felt their productivity decreased in the summer time.*

Work hours and job functions generally remain the same throughout the year, so what’s behind this behavior?  For starters, we go through a significant portion of our development (ages 5 – 18, much older for the college educated) receiving a 3 month vacation every summer. We are inadvertently conditioned, a bi-product of our academic endeavors.

Then there are the typical summer time distractions we as adults are faced with. Our kids are out of school.  Schedules have run amuck.  There are vacations to plan, camps to attend, daycare, sleepovers, play-dates, various lessons and or practices to contend with.  Summer days can be chaotic and it may be more difficult to switch back and forth between home and work life.

Possibly the most unavoidable distraction is presented by Mother Nature herself; the weather.  Research indicates that when the weather is nice, people just can’t focus on their work. A paper from the National Bureau for Economic Research suggests that hot days can hurt productivity by more than $20 per person per day.  Daydreaming about being outside in the warm sunshine can affect even the most dedicated employee.  Some workers report extending their lunchbreaks, on average 13 extra minutes during nice weather, adding up to over an hour of lost productivity each week.

It is human nature to be somewhat affected by the “summer work slump”.  Minutes here, minutes there all add up to a major decline in productivity.  However, there are steps we can take to stave off the distractions and temptations presented during this time of year.

  1. Take a vacation. Seems counter-intuitive, but getting away from work could be exactly what you need to be most productive while at work.
  2. Get a jump start on fall and year-end tasks. Shifting your focus to future tasks can help you tackle work that you know has to be done eventually.  Accomplishing tasks in advance of deadlines is a win-win idea keeping you busy and therefore diminishing the likelihood of summer slump.
  3. Think outside of the office.  No this doesn’t mean daydream about being somewhere else.  This means, plan a company outing.  This does wonders for company morale and gives employees something to look forward to.
  4. Inquire about summer “time”. A survey found that up to 30% of workplaces offer some version of Summer Fridays. By increasing work hours Monday – Thursday, some employers allow a shorter day on Friday.  Employees appreciate the time-off and work harder during the rest of the week!

Although we may not get long summer breaks anymore, that doesn’t mean we are destined to mental shut-down during the summer months.  As the old saying goes, “Work hard. Play hard.” This is the perfect time of year to implement that strategy.

*http://grasshopper.com/resources/infographics/the-summer-slump-decline-of-productivity/

Written By: Angie Barnes, Marketing Coordinator