It’s officially summer, and if you’re like we are, your calendar is jam-packed with barbecues, weddings, long weekends, and more. The office empties out earlier, lunch breaks are longer, and working on your big projects seems infinitely harder. Sound familiar? In a season full of constant temptations to choose play over the grind, you might find yourself wondering how to focus at work during the summer.
Since the show must go on, it’s crucial to set some strategic boundaries and prioritize your time. It’s all about working better and smarter, so you’ll have plenty of time for fun while also staying on top of your to-dos.
How to Focus at Work Amidst Summer Distractions
Here’s how to focus at work by fighting off some of the most common and tempting summer distractions.
Distraction #1 = FOMO
You know what it stands for. You know what it feels like. And its power to take over your thoughts is never stronger than in the summer season.
The fix: Reframe your feelings.
The FOMO struggle is real, as in it actually affects areas of your brain. And you’ll likely come up against this adversary at least once this season. If done strategically, once might be enough, and you’ll save yourself from weekly or even daily flashes of FOMO.
Here’s the step-by-step process:
- Write down the things you might see or hear about that are likely to give you jealous pangs.
For example: I get jealous whenever I see a friend accomplish a fitness milestone.
- Make a plan involving that same topic that fits your personal calendar and budget for this summer.
For example: I will sign up and train for the triathlon in ______ on ______.
- At the first sign of FOMO, redirect your thoughts to your own positive plans.
For example: Woah, my old college friend ran a full marathon. I can’t wait for my triathlon in a couple of months.
It’s your simple, proactive plan for keeping a positive mindset in the face of FOMO.
Distraction #2 = Gorgeous weather
What’s the adult version of a child staring achingly out of the classroom at the soccer field? It’s you, adding up how many outdoor activities you can fit in between the time you finish working and the time the sun sets on another perfect summer day.
This is especially true for those of us who live in northern states where the warm weather only sticks around for a few short months every year. Here’s how to focus at work when the weather is calling to you.
The fix: Inquire about flex time and/or use it to your advantage.
Request to use a flexible schedule that fits around your summer hobbies. That might mean working an extra hour every day to rack up time for three-day camping trips every other weekend. Or maybe starting work a few hours later to make room for morning bike rides.
If your supervisor needs convincing, send along our story about the productivity and wellness benefits this flex time policy brings about.
And no, this won’t work for everyone in every field. If flex time isn’t an option, think about optimizing your schedule pre- and post-work as well as your breaks during it. Can you fit in a walk during lunch at your local park? Does the outdoor pool open early enough for a quick swim before office hours?
You might have to get creative, and you’ll probably have to plan for it. But with a few tweaks, you can get your fix of great weather without sacrificing work quality or time.
Distraction #3 = Emptier offices
So it’s crickets in your office, you have tons to do, and you’re wondering how to focus at work when no one else is working. After all, if they aren’t working, why should I? It’s an understandable response to the sight of empty desks and out-of-office emails.
The fix: Retune your mindset.
Draw on the insights from Dr. Alia Crum to find a more constructive way to think about your situation. You might tweak your thoughts to something like, “Now is my chance to take advantage of a quiet office to focus deeply.”
As Dr. Crum and others have noted, repetition and mindfulness are essential for helping this healthier mindset take hold.
Distraction #4 = Spontaneous invitations
You’ve finally hit a groove and the work is flowing, when your phone buzzes and you catch a glimpse of a message about lunch with a friend. You try to get focused again, but your brain is working on your hypothetical lunch order instead of the task at hand.
The fix: Gamify your decisions.
The problem is that you’ve seen the invitation but you haven’t let yourself finish processing it. Your brain is stuck halfway between the office and the restaurant. Don’t let this distraction linger any longer than it needs to.
Give yourself a strict one-minute countdown to decide yes or no about this spontaneous invitation to lunch. This time pressure is a fun and simple way to speed up your decision-making and settle your mind so you can get back to work, suggests science.
To sum it all up…
Figuring out how to focus at work during summer can be a challenge, but these simple strategies can make it way easier to get down to business. So you can wrap up and head out into your own summer bliss.
Your turn: Do you have any other ideas about how to focus at work in the summer? Please share with us in the comments.
Want more ways to get your head in the game? Check out our post on setting priorities.
Author: Scott Trimble
Scott researched human motivation at The University of Texas at Austin. He spends most of his time traveling, reading, teaching, and writing.