By Courtney Schmidt (Managing Partner)
With longer daylight hours, I find the summer months inspire in me a sense of opportunity – more time to spend outdoors in the sun, more time to squeeze in a few extra errands or accomplish a handful of additional projects, more time to catch up with friends and family, and I’d be lying if I didn’t mention appreciating the extra time to grab a cold beverage, sit on my comfy chair and catch up on favorite shows.
At work, I have found summer can lure me into a false sense of having more time than I do. After some trial and error, I have discovered small summer routines and daily habits that help me to maximize productivity during work hours, which in turn allows me to take full advantage of summer downtime. Read on to learn more about the small routines that can make a real difference in your workday.
Productivity is often determined by how a person spends the first few hours of each workday.
- Give yourself the time you need in the morning to fully wake up, drink your morning beverage of choice, eat breakfast and get ready. For me, this means not giving in to the siren-call of the snooze button, even during the summer.
- Adopt your mindset for the day. To this end, I choose not to check my email each day until I have arrived in my physical workspace and have attained the right headspace. I made this adjustment when I realized I was allowing my post-wake-up email-check to set the day’s tone, dictate the day’s schedule and influence my mood. Instead, I engage with things that help me feel more informed (The Daily podcast), happier (@dog_feelings posts) and more prepared (my planner) for the day.
- Understand that willpower is at its strongest first thing in the morning and every decision made in a day gradually wears down both willpower and critical thinking faculties. I know that I can be distracted even on my best, most well-rested day, so when I can, I dedicate early morning worktime to those projects I am most passionate about, that I am stuck on or that are a top priority.
Embrace the alternatives to the mid-day slump. As The Muse’s Lily Herman writes, “putting aside part of your workday for you isn’t selfish – it’s a great way to refocus, boost your energy and relax a little bit after a long stretch of completing tasks.”
- Mix it up. If you have spent the morning on your feet, sit down. If you have spent half your day at your desk in front of a screen, get up, move and stretch. Not only will this give your body a break, it will provide your mind a necessary change of perspective.
- Use your lunchbreak for something you enjoy. This might mean eating a lunch you love, it could mean a mid-day infusion of caffeine, for one of my coworkers it means physically leaving the office every day. For me, it means catching up with coworkers.
Unsurprisingly, adopting small habits before you clock out can have a tremendous, positive impact on the proceeding workday.
- Evaluate your progress and establish priorities for the next day. As a dedicated to-do list enthusiast, nothing gives me more joy (and provides a greater sense of closure) at the end of the workday than crossing off completed items. My daily to-do list review also gives me a chance to formulate a plan for what comes next.
- Find a way to leave work at work. At the end of each workday, I meaningfully, conscientiously engage in an activity that helps me clear my mind and leave my day behind. Whether that is an outdoor walk, a session at the gym, happy hour with friends, a podcast during the evening commute, a nap or time spent preparing an evening meal, find a way to disengage from the workday. Your brain will thank you for it.
(I recommend these articles from Forbes and the Harvard Business Review if you’d like to learn more about morning workday habits and productivity; Forbes also has some great advice for wrapping up your workday successfully.)