Picture this: The sun is hot. The days are long. You breathe in the ocean air as the beach beckons you. Summer is here and it feels oh-so-good …
… then your desk phone rings and snaps you out of your summer daze. A harsh reminder that you’re still at work for another few hours with a plate full of work to do. Distractions happen to all of us, but you’re not alone if you feel like they linger around more in the summer months. A study done by Captive Network a few years ago found that workplace productivity dropped 20% in the summer – and workers are 45% more likely to be distracted. It’s also been found that projects can take 13% longer to complete during the season. See? It’s not just you. That media list actually is taking you forever.
Many companies offer various perks during the summer months – whether it’s flex hours or telecommuting privileges. But unless you’re a disciplined work-from-home veteran, being remote can make summer even tougher.
As a telecommuting employee working from San Diego (where it’s basically always summer), I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for keeping productivity high when everything else inside you says, Get me outta here!!
- Establish a routine. Stick to it. One of the top questions I get as a remote worker is, “Do you just, like, stay in your PJ’s all day and work from bed?” Heck no I don’t! I would never get anything done. The mind is funny; it becomes a creature of the habits we keep. If we associate our bed and our PJ’s with relaxing and sleeping – your mind is going to stay in that mode. Tempting as it may be, you do not want to get into this habit when working away from the office. Establish a routine from Day 1. Get up, get dressed, have breakfast. Even if “getting dressed” means throwing on some yoga pants. The act of moving and getting ready will wake up your mind & prepare you for the day.
I also recommend sticking to a consistent set of work hours – just as if you were in the office. Working from home makes it all too easy to reach for that laptop or phone and respond to work items after hours. Not having that physical transition from office to home can make it harder to mentally separate the two. But it’s important you do. Whether you decide to work 9-5, 8-4 – whatever your set in place, stick to it. And when 5pm comes, shut down and step away.
- Technology is your friend. New technology platforms and apps have made it immensely easier to work remotely. I can’t begin to share how seamless tools like Slack have made it to stay & feel connected with my coworkers across all different offices. There are a number of tools to help you stay productive too. Slack offers reminders to ping you whenever you want. Extensions & applications like StayFocusd or SelfControl will literally block you from accessing any websites you put a self-imposed ban on.
- Soak up some of that sunshine for a few minutes. In a previous post, I covered remote working tips for newbies. One of those tips was to take breaks. There was a study that showed people who walk away from their computers or phones for a few minutes are often some of the most productive. Take a step outside into that summer weather that’s been calling your focus away and reset. Just avoid the temptation to not walk back into the office doors.
Stanford University found that telecommuters are 14% more productive than office-bound colleagues – but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to the dog days of summer. While being at home may offer more temptation to let summer distractions win, we’ve all got a job to do. Find the best methods for keeping your focus on point – and then bask in the summer glow when that glorious feeling of checking off all your to-do lists is done.