Summer Success Guide: 5 Tips to Slow Down, Get Stuff Done + Soak Up the Season

austinsummer

The days are longer and hotter, life moves a little slower, and everyone’s a bit more chilled out than usual –– summer is here in full force. Though it can be a magical season of swimming pools and barbecues, sparklers and vacations, it can also feel like an unproductive slump of a season. So how can you make the most of the summer? How can you make it through the long, slow, sweaty days and still feel like you’re making progress in the big picture? This awkward 12-week season of a changed pace doesn’t have to be a waste, and it doesn’t have to look like the other 9 months of the year either.

 

Here are 5 tips for a successful and super-fun summer:

  1. Focus on daily rhythms instead of schedules

  2. Create themed days and batch your work

  3. Achieve a big goal with an end-of-summer incentive

  4. Let it all hang out and slow things down a bit

  5. Say “yes” to spontaneous summer adventures

 

Focus on daily rhythms instead of schedules

In the busiest seasons, it can feel like every single minute of the day has to be accounted for on the calendar. Sometimes, even a lunch break has to be scheduled in so you don’t forget to eat. During the summer, things typically move at a slower pace while people are in and out of the office on summer vacations and family trips. Take advantage of this change of pace by allowing yourself to ditch the super strict daily schedule, opting instead for daily rhythms.

Daily rhythms are the daily elements that need to be present for you to feel like you’ve had a successful and fulfilling day, without having to micro-manage every minute of the day in a rigid manner. These rhythms are different for each person, but may include things like: going on a consistent morning walk, 15 minutes of meditation before working, having dinner with the kids each night. The key here is that these particular elements don’t have a scheduled time that they have to happen every day, but rather, should be incorporated each day, but with a flexibility to take place whenever is most convenient. Another way to think about rhythms could be by the week or month during the summer –– for example, this week I’m going heads down on a big project, but next week I’ll create more space to play and have fun with friends.

Sticking to rhythms instead of a strict schedule is meant to create a bit more breathing room and flexibility so you can be present to the spontaneity of summer, and still have a bit of consistency in your days.

 

Create themed days and batch your work

When your brain has to switch tracks many times in a given day –– from meetings, to writing, to number-crunching, to emails, back to meetings –– it can be hard to focus and get things done. Add to that the increased temps and a never-ending summer daydream about being poolside, and it’s even harder to be effective.

So instead of fighting yourself and constantly switching tracks, have fun with it and theme your days of the week, working in batches and doing like work all at the same time. For example –– maybe you have Meeting Mondays, and you try to schedule all your meetings back to back on Mondays. Perhaps you go with Financial Fridays, and you save all the money-related or number-crunching admin work for Fridays. Another way to approach it could be picking one or two days per week where you have a different work location than normal. Maybe Coworking Wednesday brings you into Atmosphere for the day, or perhaps every Thursday you check out a different local coffee shop and post-up to get things done there.

By allowing yourself to have a bit of fun with themed days, you’ll mix up your normal routine while also injecting anticipation into the mundane day-to-day. You’ll also give your brain a break from having to switch tracks all the time by lumping like tasks with like tasks.

 

Achieve a big goal with an end-of-summer incentive

Summer is typically either a busy whirlwind of keeping kids entertained while trying to manage life and work, or it’s a slow sweaty slumpfest with little motivation or progress. Either way, it can be hard to move forward on big picture goals or personal projects during this season. But you don’t have to let these weeks slip through your fingers leaving you empty-handed in August!

So how to move the needle? How about attaching a big, fun, end-of-summer incentive to big progress on your goal? Pick a project or goal you’ve been wanting to tackle –– launching your personal blog, doing a refresh on your LinkedIn page, reconnecting with key people in your network, or refreshing your client acquisition process. Whatever your goal may be, make sure it’s realistic, measurable, specific, attainable, and for goodness sake –– make sure it’s something you actually WANT to spend time working on. It’s time for summer fun, right?!

Once you’ve picked your project, pick a valuable incentive that actually matters to you. Maybe it’s a weekend getaway with your partner to a new city, perhaps it’s a solo spa day, maybe a spontaneous family road-trip. Whatever it is, you must clearly define the terms –– write down how you’ll know you’ve accomplished your goal, when you have to have it done by, and what the reward is. And then, if you don’t get the goal done, you don’t get the reward. Simple as that. When a fun end-of-summer reward is what awaits, you’ll likely feel more motivated to put in the time on that project or goal.

 

Let it all hang out and slow things down a bit

Okay, so maybe you grab drive-thru dinner or let the laundry pile up a bit more than normal… where’s the harm in that!? Even the most regimented folks can benefit from a summer slow-down. It’s not the end of the world if you get a bit more casual with office attire or opt for easier meal prep. The point is: it’s summer and you can let it all hang out. Give yourself the freedom to slow down, lower the standards, and enjoy the people all around you.

It might sound cliche, but life is too short to sweat the small stuff, especially when you’re already sweating bullets in a Texas summer. Take the slower summer pace as a season to rest a bit more, give yourself more space to be a messy human, and loosen the reigns a little. Allow yourself to be fully present as memories are being made with family and friends. Freak out a little less if you spill barbecue sauce on your white t-shirt. Breathe deep the hot air and cultivate a moment of gratitude for all the good you have in your life. Slow down, stress less, and find yourself refreshed once the pace begins to pick back up in the fall.

 

Say “yes” to spontaneous summer adventures

There’s always more work to be done, but sometimes, life calls and you have to make a choice between being “responsible” or giving an enthusiastic spontaneous “yes!” to the moment. This summer, commit to saying “yes” more often to the fun summer activities all around. If your neighbor invites you over to grill-out, throw together and easy salad and show up at their front door. Hop on your bike and take the kids for a ride around the block. Agree to a last-minute trip to the river for tubing or the lake for stand-up paddle boarding.

If you’re based in Austin, there are tons of fun, affordable ways to really soak up the summer days! Head to Barton Springs from 5-8am or 9-10pm for free swim, beat the heat and catch an afternoon matinee at Alamo Drafthouse, grab a partner and go dancing at The White Horse on a weekday night, or catch a local artist playing at Unplugged at Shady Grove. No matter what you like to do, saying “yes” to adventure is sure to fill your cup! Plus, you’ll make precious memories with your people and maybe even discover a new favorite spot in town while you’re at it.

 

Now it’s your turn to live your best summer life:

Take 15 minutes today to reflect, jot down responses to these questions, and then commit to making a few small changes for summer.

+ RHYTHMS
What are two or three elements you need to incorporate into your daily or weekly rhythms to make you feel like you’re being productive and successful this summer? (Think about work and life –– exercise, cooking, managing your email inbox, daily family time, etc).

+ THEMED DAYS
Pick one day of the week that you can “theme” and define what it will be about. What area of work or life are you struggling to stay on top of? How can you batch like tasks and schedule them into one day of the week? Where will you spend your themed day? Now add it to your calendar and define what you’ll aim to get done.

+ BIG GOAL
What’s one personal project you’d like to make progress on this summer? What’s a valuable enough incentive that will motivate you to get moving? Define the project and the reward. Write down all the terms, schedule blocks of time in your calendar to work on the goal, and then tell a few people what you’re doing to create accountability.

+ SLOW DOWN
What is one practical thing in your life that you can worry less about this summer? (Laundry, getting dressed up every day, perfect family meals, inbox zero, responding to every text message, etc). Pick one or two areas where you plan to let it all hang out a bit and write them down.

+ ADVENTURE
What is one spontaneous summer activity that you’d enjoy saying yes to in the next couple of months? Who would you like to go on an adventure with this summer? Write down a few options and text the people you noted to get the adventures rolling.

Enjoy the summer! 

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Guest post and photo by Melissa Huisman, Founder of Diamond Block.