You are probably feeling more social and energized this summer after the lengthy, drawn-out COVID lockdowns. After so many restrictions, you are likely jumping at the chance to get outside and have fun with friends. The pull to spoil yourself with all that you have been missing out on is strong and hard to resist. Yet, you still have a job to do. It is challenging to stay motivated and keep the focus on being productive. How do you intermingle discipline with freedom? Is it possible to have your cake and eat it too?
While it may be challenging to balance your social life with work, there are practical steps to achieve that equilibrium this summer. Here are some of the ways you can experience the best of both worlds!
Take time off
Being strict without any leniency is not sustainable. Eventually, you will burn out and binge on indulgences (i.e. bad habits). It is okay to allow a little extra time to enjoy yourself. Don’t forget to use your PTO for a three-day weekend once in a while and appoint Thursday as your new Friday. Extending your weekends to include Friday is a good way to enjoy some downtime in the sunshine. Additionally, a condensed four-day workweek can be just as productive, if not more so, as a five-day week because you are more likely to stay focused on completing everything in time. To ensure success in a shorter workweek, make sure you get the most out of the days you commit to working. Have set plans to achieve all the goals on your to-do list and stay focused on completing each task. Planning is directly related to performance. Procedures give you clear sight of your objectives; they help keep your focus on the end goal. Be clear about your plans. When your eyes remain on the prize, you won’t be distracted by the little things. Do not procrastinate on something that you can do right away. Procrastination is a contagious enemy that will sabotage your mission to succeed.
Shake up your scenery
If you are working from home, try moving your office outside to your backyard, a park, or a local coffee shop with outdoor seating. To change it up, assign a specific task or project to each location. For example, answer all emails at the coffee shop and work on a team project on your terrace. Practice discipline by completing each task before moving on to the next scene. This also allows for diversity that may spark creativity. You must focus because your plan relies on completing work. The movement between locations can also combat feelings of lethargy associated with long periods spent at the desk.
Work out outdoors
Exercise is a great way to fuel energy reserves. Spending energy affords you energy by increasing the blood and oxygen flow within the body. Try riding your bike, going for a run, hiking in the woods, or taking an outdoor yoga class. Transferring your workout outside allows you to enjoy the sun and get some fresh air.
Appoint an accountability buddy or hire a life coach to keep you on track. Be very open and clear about what it is that you would like to achieve so that this person can effectively keep you on track. When you know that you have to admit to someone else when you have failed to do something, it accentuates the guilt and bad feeling you get for failing to accomplish it – your motivation to not let it happen. Hire a life coach to keep you on track with all of your goals.
Offer rewards for accomplishments. Implementing incentives to get things done plays a significant role in staying motivated. Give yourself outside breaks or walks in between major task completions. Take time off in the afternoon to eat slowly and enjoy your lunch break. Reward yourself for a productive day with an outdoor happy hour with friends. If you completely deprive yourself of all the joys that life has to offer, you might rebel and sabotage all the work you have to get done. Self-care is essential and productive. Treat yourself to a spa day. You’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated after and will likely be more effective at work.
Fuel your body
What you eat affects your cognitive performance. Heavy, greasy food can make you feel sluggish, while water-dense food like fruit and vegetables can keep you alert and focused. To avoid eating something unhealthy, plan your meals ahead of time. Knowing what you are going to eat before you are hungry is calming for the mind, but it also makes it easier to follow through with wise choices over unhealthy options.
Though the temptation to procrastinate on sleeping at bedtime is a rapidly increasing problem of its own, do your best to remain strict with your sleeping schedule. While it can be tempting to stay up late and go out this summer, it is best to choose a bedtime at a reasonable hour and stick to it. This will allow you to wake up early and get the most out of the warm daylight hours. If you are consistently struggling with sleep, consider implementing a meditation practice before bedtime or hiring a sleep coach.
Set shorter deadlines
The closer the due date, the more apt you are to complete the task right away and not procrastinate. Hold yourself accountable for this by making a public declaration to teammates. The longer you extend deadlines, the more complicated the work appears to be. Shorter deadlines force you to focus and can trigger a flow state.
Use anti-distraction technology
Technology doesn’t always have to be distracting. Use it to your advantage by researching apps that block out distractions and keep you focused. Turn your phone on airplane mode and put bans on social media sites during working hours. Use noise-canceling headphones if you decide to work in a public place. Distraction is the enemy of focus, and it is everywhere at all times. Use whatever tools are available to inhibit these distractions from being a detriment to your success.
The bottom line
While it may be challenging to balance your social life with work, there are practical steps to achieve that equilibrium this summer. Take advantage of the scenery changes available to you now as the weather is warmer. Allow yourself breaks and rewards. Be easy on yourself. Set achievable expectations and do not deprive yourself of the joys of life. Mix business with pleasure and find enjoyment in the tasks that you are required to do. Productivity does not have to be unpleasant. You will see that the more you accomplish, the better you feel in the long run. Purpose plays a significant role in your happiness. When you feel your best, you make the most out of life, appreciate the small things, and seize every opportunity.
How do you continue to stay motivated this summer? Let us know your favorite method in the comments!