August 5, 2016
Bust The Summer Slump
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It’s August and summer is in full swing, bringing with it warm weather, vacations, BBQs and smiles. But while the temperature and people’s spirits may be rising, chances are your workplace productivity is cooling down.
Like many other businesses, you might be feeling the summer slowdown right now. With hazy days come lazy ways in the office. It’s hot, clients and customers are away, and colleagues are zoning out, dreaming of lying on a beach or sitting in a beer garden somewhere. Add to that the irresistible lure of distractions like Pokémon GO and it’s no wonder projects are coming to a standstill as summer heats up.
According to CNBC, organizations across all industries often report a loss of productivity and ROI during the summer, including household names like Yahoo, Google and Oracle. Other surveys have found that 25% of workers feel less productive during June, July and August than in the rest of the year. And a 2012 Harvard study reports that people make more errors and take longer to complete assigned tasks during sunny days than on rainy days.
That’s not to say that you and your team should write off the summer season because of the productivity slump. Take advantage of the lull to embrace a flexible summer schedule, rejig your priorities, power through the stuff you’ve been putting off, try something new, and set the stage for an active September. Here at DropTask, we’ve put together a few tips to help you bust the slump and stay on track during the summer months, while still enjoying time to kick back (or chase Pokémon!).
1. Embrace a flexible summer schedule
So, you’re one of the unfortunate few left holding up the fort while your teammates are away. Don’t be glum about it, there are ways that you and your fellow workers can enjoy some of the fun summer has to offer and still get things done at the same time.
The key is to be flexible. Studies demonstrate that teams with modified work schedules (such as half-day Fridays) show increased productivity, growth and engagement in the summer. Ensure expectations are set and be clear on which deadlines won’t budge, but give yourself and your team more options on how work is carried out. Empower colleagues with the ability to adjust their work hours around their most demanding tasks or to work remotely if possible. DropTask is the ultimate teleworking tool, enabling you to share work and collaborate with anyone, no matter where they are. Real-time technology allows for instantaneous updates on tasks, so team members are always on the same page. Mark Pohlmann, project manager at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise describes how he uses DropTask to manage teams working remotely across various sites around the world.
Manage your time better and keep track of your availability using DropTask’s new built-in Calendar. In a forthcoming update, you’ll soon be able to view each other’s calendars and leave status or progress updates on tasks. Don’t forget to schedule frequent ‘sunshine breaks’ to eat lunch outside, grab an ice cream or take an afternoon walk. The brief mental break and hit of Vitamin D will reduce the pressure and refresh your productivity when you get back to work. A good way to boost morale is to institute Summer Fridays—where people take the afternoon off or leave early on Fridays rather than work a full day. This gives them the chance to beat traffic and get a head start on their weekend, but encourages them to be that extra bit more focused and productive when in the workplace.
2. Rejig your priorities
Summertime presents the perfect opportunity to fine-tune your priorities and stay busy in the right ways. With many workers off on vacation, make use of this quiet time to step back, reflect on work completed, revive your aspirations and set new goals so you can hit the ground running come September. If you’ve constantly got your nose to the grindstone, even at this time of the year, you can easily lose sight of your main ambitions and waste energy on tasks that don’t align with the bigger picture. Instead of getting bogged down in the minor details of your work, do some deep thinking on a grander scale and plan your strategies for moving forward. For instance, aim to take on weightier, more complex projects in the winter months and schedule new products, campaigns or other deliverables for late spring, before winding down for the summer.
DropTask offers flexible planning features so you can figure out both your long-term goals and more immediate, upcoming tasks. On a day-to-day basis, it can help you stay on top of your to-do list and avoid pointless summery distractions. Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of every day to outline and prioritise your tasks according to your biggest goals. We recommend that you tackle your most difficult or high-grade tasks early in the morning, and leave the easier low-grade ones for later in the day. This is doubly important in the summer as productivity can dip dramatically after lunch, so your mornings need to be super productive! Come the afternoon, you can go out and enjoy a bit of sunshine without feeling guilty about what you’ve left behind.
3. Power through the stuff you’ve been putting off
If you find that the summer season provides a little breathing space, take advantage of an empty office to finish any projects or bitty tasks that you haven’t been able to give your full attention to. Complete any reports, reviews, budgets or updates that have languished behind in favour of more pressing matters. Catch up with your admin, tie up loose ends, organise your desk and zero out your inbox. Focus on accomplishing all your unfinished tasks, rather than simply filling the hours from 9 to 5. You’ll feel great satisfaction every time you ‘pop’ a task bubble on your DropTask dashboard. . When the workplace gets busy and crowded again, you’ll be thankful you made the effort.
4. Try new things
Summer is ideal for experimenting and switching things up. Now is the time to test new tools or trial new systems you’ve been thinking about implementing, especially if work is starting to feel a little stale lately. For instance, if you’ve been wanting to try out a new productivity app such as DropTask or creative problem solving approach, go ahead and give it a go while the office is relatively peaceful. Play with new features and options so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t for you and your team.
Summer brings an expansive feel to life, so it’s a good time to build new skills and fill out your shoes. If there’s a new subject you want to learn or habit you want to develop, go for it, even if it’s just starting a new fitness regime. The same goes for your team. Give your workers, particularly the young ones, a chance to take on new developmental challenges or wear new hats. Deloitte research shows that millennials don’t just want to spend their time earning a paycheck; they want to invest time acquiring skills and knowledge to grow personally and professionally. What better time of year than the summer to let them do it? Once the autumn leaves start to fall and deadlines loom close, you’ll have a more powerful and skilled team at your disposal.
5. Set the stage for September
As well as taking stock of your situation, rearranging your priorities and putting to bed your unfinished tasks, look to ready yourself for the colder seasons with something brand spanking new. Redesign your website or logo, create a backlog of content, or put together a presentation or white paper to establish yourself as an industry leader. While you’re at it, clean up your LinkedIn profile, Facebook page and any other online bios floating around. As the summer draws to a productive close, a fresh new you will be ready to take center stage.
Staying productive in the summer doesn’t have to be a challenge. Use DropTask to help you beat the office doldrums and make summer your season to shine. How do you and your team like to be productive during the summer? Share your thoughts, tips and experiences in the comments below.