Summer Workin’: Five Ways To Savour Your Summer On The Job

Photo by rowanlott on Pixabay

Summer workin’ had me a blast.
Summer workin’ happens so fast.

(You’re singing this with me, aren’t you? )

We’ve made it to June! With my daughter still in school, I always think of a “work year” as being on a school year schedule. Getting to June means there is a notable shift in the months ahead. I tend to watch a lot of my daughter’s beach volleyball (and play a little myself). I love the endless sky by the ocean where we play.

During the summer months, I’ll slow down a bit and take some time off. But I’ve also got a lot on my plate to organize for the fall. So, while there is work to do, I intend to do everything I can to soak up these glorious next few months.

Here are some ways I plan to shift things for my summer work schedule. Maybe there are some ideas here that you can use if you’re working through the summer too.

Find A Beautiful, Outside Office Space

Last summer, we did a little family project of laying flagstone and making a patio/outdoor workspace in our garden. Not only was completing the project very satisfying, but this area was an absolute lifesaver for having physically-distanced meetings.

I often take my work outside during the summer anyway. Whether out on the porch or the new patio (based on whether it’s sun, shade or breeze I’m looking for), I find it uplifting and inspiring to be in the little garden ecosystem and hear the birds in the trees.

It doesn’t really feel like a “job” when you get to sit in the shade by the potted bamboo. It feels like I’m doing what I love… in a place that I love.

If you are in an apartment, or don’t have access to a yard, try setting up an “office” at a local park for a few hours a day, or make one day a week your “work outside” day. Or find a coffee shop with a great outdoor patio (and good Wifi!)

You might find the change in scenery really inspires you too and gets the ideas flowing!

Take A Walk During Your Meetings

If you have a meeting that needs to happen, try making it an active one! My favourite meetings are when I can spend 45-minutes talking and walking around the block either in person with my colleague or on the phone! I’m much more creative when I am moving.

A New York Times article, Can Exercise Make You More Creative? highlights various studies conducted on the impact of exercise on creativity and happiness.

One recent study found that “…active people come up with more and better ideas during tests of their inventiveness than people who are relatively sedentary.” It suggests that to be more innovative we need to move our bodies. (Reynolds, 2021)

Take Breaks For Energy

I know you’ve been there before—working hard on a project and thinking, “If I just push through… I’ll finish!” Oftentimes, if we feel like we are floundering a bit, it’s because our bodies and brains are tired. They need a recharge! Frequent breaks help sustain energy throughout the day. Disconnecting and clearing your mind at just the right time can lead to some brilliant breakthroughs!

The trend of working longer and harder here in North America is not sustainable. Tired people don’t perform well. The Draughiem Group conducted some research awhile back that showed that those who take short breaks regularly are more productive overall. The ideal ratio was actually found to be 52-minutes of concentrated work time, followed by a 17-minute break (and this apparently follows the ebbs and flows in our brain energy). People who take these breaks, spend less time looking at distractions like Facebook and email.

So, set yourself this sort of schedule for the summer months and see how it feels. It might become a habit you stick with. Set a timer and work for 52-minutes, and then enjoy an iced coffee, or some yoga stretches, or a chat with a co-worker (if you are in an office).

Grant yourself permission to take these frequent breaks and see what they do for you! (Research backs them up.)

Start/Focus/Continue With Your Gratitude And Meditation Practice

I found that being in isolation at the start of the pandemic really helped me to get into a regular habit of meditation. I know how good it is for me! Meditation is one of those practices that increases positive emotion which has a major impact on our creativity and engagement in work.

The research shows that there is a tipping point of 80-90 minutes of meditation per week, over which our positivity, optimism, possibility-thinking and creativity starts to soar. Just a little a day can go a long way!

There are many kinds of meditation, and I have found myself drawn toward using the body scan most often. Another favourite is the Loving Kindness Meditation. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a well-known researcher on positivity, found that having people do this type of meditation regularly helped them to self-generate positive emotions that lasted. It didn’t matter if they were experienced meditators or new to the practice. Individuals who practiced this meditation regularly, measured higher on the scales of love, engagement, serenity, joy and amusement.

Through this practice, you repeat the mantra:

May I be safe
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I live with ease.

I always find it particularly calming, and especially so during the pandemic. And you then move on and, thinking about someone you care about, repeat the above mantra, replacing the “I” with “you.” Just Google “Loving Kindness Meditation” to find many guided meditations of this type to follow.

Gratitude is one of those practices that has become a regular part of my life. It’s like exercise. I just do it. For those who are not familiar with the practice, it is not just about thinking positive or feeling grateful; it is about sitting down every day with pen in hand and writing down at least three things that you are grateful for.

Sounds so simple, but we know from the research that when people do this regularly it starts to change their brain chemistry. We have a negativity bias, which means if we’re not doing things to increase our positivity, we will tend to look for the negative more often.

When you start a daily gratitude practice, after a couple of weeks you feel more positive. Your brain starts searching for what is good. You start seeing more possibilities. You feel more creative and productive.

I cannot recommend meditation and gratitude enough! I touch upon these two skills regularly in my speaking and workshops. Try putting your priority on one of these practices over the summer and observe the results.

Make Time To Hit The Books!

Do you have several books you’ve been wanting to read, but they just keep moving down your priority list? I sure do. In the summer, I really catch up on my reading. I like to get into something interesting that relates to my work (in addition to the biographies and novels that are a part of my beach time reading!) Often when I’m working, I don’t have time to read that new book on positive psychology or mindful leadership, so I will read it when I’m on vacation and can really dive in and absorb it. I collect so many great ideas and pieces of advice that I can then implement in the fall when I get back into my regular work mode.

Looking for something to read or add to your list? Check out my summer reading ideas here:

Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power that Elevates People and Organizations. (2017) Monica C. Worline and Jane E. Dutton

The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self. (2021) Martha Beck. 

The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth. (2018) Amy C. Edmondson. 

Build an A Team: Play to Their Strengths and Lead Them Up the Learning Curve. (2018) Whitney Johnson 

Into the Magic Shop. A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart. (2016) James R. Doty, M.D.

Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind To Yourself. (2011) Kristin Neff

We Need New Stories: The Myths That Subvert Freedom. (2021) Nesrine Malik.

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization. (2009) Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright.

Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames. (2002) Thich Nhat Hanh.

Enjoy Those Happy, Summer Days!

What would you add to this list? How else do you maximize your summer days while still working?

Here at Well-Advised Consulting, we’re wishing you a wonderful, relaxing summer ahead. Thank you for following our blog, and sharing the journey in creating happy teams, and thriving workplaces.

Deborah Connors

Deborah Connors teaches leaders to radically shift culture so that people can flourish. She is an engaging speaker, storyteller, author and coach.

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