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Maximizing Productivity During the Summer Months

Anna Myers | 05/25/2023

Cast your mind back to your school days, particularly the countdown to the end of the year, which seemed to drag on forever after spring break. Do you remember daydreaming about summer vacation, sleeping in, and having no homework? As adults, we may not be lucky enough to have a summer break every year, but research has shown that many working adults still experience a “summer slump” similar to school-age kids approaching the end of the academic year. In fact, one in four office workers reports a decrease in productivity during the summer months.

So, why does this happen? Work hours and job responsibilities generally remain the same throughout the year, so what’s behind this behavior? For one, we spend a significant portion of our formative years (ages 5-18, and even older for those who go to college) getting a three-month summer vacation. Consequently, we are subconsciously conditioned, a byproduct of our academic experiences.

Then, there are the typical distractions of summer that we, as adults, must contend with. Our children are out of school, and schedules are disrupted. There are vacations to plan, camps to attend, daycare, sleepovers, playdates, and various lessons or practices to coordinate. Summer days can be chaotic, making it more challenging to transition between work and home life.

Perhaps the most unavoidable distraction is the weather itself. Research indicates that on nice days, people find it difficult to concentrate on their work. A paper from the National Bureau for Economic Research suggests that hot days can reduce 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 even report extending their lunch breaks by an average of 13 extra minutes during nice weather, resulting in more than an hour of lost productivity each week.

It is natural to be somewhat affected by the “summer work slump.” Minutes here and there can add up to a significant decline in productivity. However, there are steps we can take to overcome the distractions and temptations of this time of year:

  1. Take a vacation: Although it may seem counterintuitive, getting away from work could be just what you need to be most productive when you return.
  2. Get a jump start on fall and year-end tasks: Focusing on future tasks can help you tackle work that you know has to be done eventually. Accomplishing tasks ahead of deadlines is a win-win approach that keeps you occupied, decreasing the likelihood of a summer slump.
  3. Think outside of the office: Plan a company outing. This does wonders for company morale and gives employees something to look forward to.
  4. Inquire about summer time: Up to 30% of workplaces offer some version of Summer Fridays. By increasing work hours Monday through Thursday, some employers allow for a shorter day on Friday. Employees appreciate the time off and work harder during the rest of the week!

Although we may not have long summer breaks anymore, we can still avoid a mental shutdown during the summer months. As the old saying goes, “Work hard. Play hard.” This is the perfect time of year to put that strategy into action!