It’s especially difficult to stay on track with deadlines and business goals during the summer months. Upcoming vacation plans can easily hijack concentration and thoughts of being outside can thwart your efforts to get work done. If you’re feeling this way, you’re not alone. In fact, a Captivate Network study indicated that workplace productivity decreases by 20% in the summer and employees are 45% more distracted.
At MakeOffices, our coworking spaces are designed to foster collaboration and community, but also allow for serious work. While much of the ability to concentrate has to do with environment and state of mind, there are tips and tricks to boost productivity, get sh*t done, and be happy while doing it—no matter the season!
We asked some of our MakeOffices members for the tricks they use to stay on track, and resist the temptation to daydream about summer plans. Here are 6 simple tips from our passionate and productive members:
1. Try to concentrate on one task at a time
In today’s world, we’re pulled in multiple directions by distractions, whether it’s checking email, taking phone calls, monitoring social media, or running in and out of meetings. We’re constantly multitasking, and while this is a useful skill in our personal lives, it hinders productivity in the workplace. According to David Rock, the co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute, as quoted in Entrepreneur, multitasking “reduces our intelligence, literally dropping our IQ. We make mistakes, miss subtle cues, fly off the handle when we shouldn’t, or spell things wrong.”
For Grant Leonard, the founder of The Grant Leonard Group, a social media consulting firm, remaining mindful is one of the major ways he stays focused. Like many other entrepreneurs, small business owners, and freelancers, Grant has a lot going and often has to juggle several requests at once. He says, “by remaining mindful, I can turn total focus to accomplishing the task at hand in the most effective and efficient manner.”
2. Take periodic breaks
When a long term project seems too daunting to complete all at once, it helps to break up the task in smaller chunks of time. David Colgan, owner of Less Boring LLC, utilizes the Pomodoro Technique, a time management tactic which breaks up work into intervals. To increase productivity, David says he uses this technique, and typically tends to “set a timer for 25 minutes and work without email, social media, or any other web surfing, and then take a five minute break.” Along with improving concentration, he says the technique “also helps a huge project feel less intimidating.” The five minute breaks between periods of uninterrupted work serve as a reward and can be used to check email, catch up on some quick desktop organization, or to grab a glass of water.
3. Take a walk
One of the simplest ways to clear your mind and get back on track with daily to-do’s is a quick walk. Get a healthy dose of vitamin D by stepping outside. Brandon K. Hatton, Program Director at Airbnb and one of our members at MakeOffices Dupont Circle in Washington DC, uses this tactic to stay on top of his game at work. “I have a simple solution for staying productive,” he says, “Anytime I feel sluggish I get up and take a walk around Dupont Circle. It’s a really special treat to work in such a beautiful place (especially when it’s warm)!” If it’s raining or simply too hot outside, Nate Nash, CEO atGovTribe, a federal intelligence marketing platform, recommends “a quick lap around the floor gets me back in the swing of things.”
4. Eat a (healthy) snack
It’s no secret that concentration slips and your mind starts to wander when you’re hungry. For Shy and Eman Pahlevani, Co-Founders of HUNGRY, a fresh-cooked meal delivery service, “nutrition is key to staying productive.” The reason, Shy says, is because “we’re working hard at HUNGRY and, well, we get hungry, so having readily available snacks is essential to staying productive.” Reaching for unhealthy options can make you feel sluggish, so opt for healthier options like fresh fruit, nuts, or high-protein yogurt.
5. Listen to your favorite music or radio program
Blaze through busywork or those “mindless yet necessary” tasks by playing your favorite music or radio program. Spotify, Pandora, and other music streaming services have an endless selection of playlists and radio stations meant to boost productivity. Case Escape, a company that helps entrepreneurs sell high-quality phone cases, recommends listening to something that keeps you laughing. For Matt, who describes his company culture as “very relaxed,” Howard Stern does the trick. Find the music station or radio program that works for your company culture, your work habits, and your workload.
6. Make sure you have the right technology
You can usually employ quick changes to boost productivity, but sometimes technology – or lack thereof – can immensely affect the ability to get work done. Whether it’s a technology overload, a desk full of rarely-used devices, or an out of date, low-resolution computer, the little things matter. If your work requires multiple tabs and applications open simultaneously, investing in an extra monitor can increase output, efficiency, and ultimately, fulfillment at work. For Erin Richardson, SVP Product at an image-discovery app called Lookbk, using two monitors not only saves time, but is “extremely helpful when working with analytics, excel reporting, content generation, browser testing and for having two separate email accounts open at the same time.”
Accomplishing everything on your to-do list can help you feel empowered, inspired, and motivated throughout the work week. Try out some of these tips to get through the “summertime sadness” and thrive!