The United Kingdom is still largely under the hot blankets of a heatwave and, now that the summer holidays have started, it feels like we'd rather dive straight back onto the bed unclothed than get up for work. And when we do get to work, we feel the need to shove our desk fans against our cheeks more than ever. Summertime can be the hardest time to be an adult, in any sense of the word. If you're not working a job, you might be a university student feeling like you have worked your butt off all year and deserve to lay in bed now, even though you've got mountains of uni prep to do. I've been there, and you totally deserve to lay in bed for the first few weeks. But real life does catch up with us eventually and we have to get the work done, so here are some tips to help you balance your lifestyle this summer.
Find your most productive time of day
Specifically for the self-employed and university students among us, it's time to actively think about a typical day in your life. When are you at your quickest? Smartest? Most wide awake? Find at which point in the day you tend to feel the most creative or determined and try to stick to it, scheduling so that you can get the most out of the hours that you work. Whatever you do outside of that time is up to you, but try to get into a new routine that keeps you ticking over as life slows down over the summertime. The great thing about working at your most productive time is that you'll probably end up getting more done than you were hoping to.
Get out of the office
While I was thinking about this post, I learned on Workplace Insight that, besides the daily commute, almost 40 per cent of office workers in the UK spend just 15 minutes outside all day. There's something to be taken away from this. Not only does getting outside make us feel better; a by-product of happiness is better precision, higher alertness and an overall increase in work performance. I never like a staffroom that's small and feels like everybody is sitting on top of one another so while working when the weather was good I started jumping at the opportunity to eat outside on my lunch breaks, as opposed to sitting in a stuffy, dimly lit staffroom. I felt much better for it and the more I did it, the more I noticed others were doing it too.
Give yourself an off-day
If you work full-time, you'll probably look at this and laugh. I've been there, working forty hours a week leaves you with little energy and time, and taking days off whenever you like just isn't possible. That's what the weekends are for, right? Make yourself a plan to use whatever days of the week you don't work to get your head around housework and other commitments. Structure it however you like, whether you want to split it equally or do all of your run-about jobs one day and use the next day as a total 'off-day'. Of course and to our dismay, things don't always pan out the way we planned (I'm not sure why I find this happening in my life so frequently, anybody else?), so it's important we don't get so caught up in our routines that we beat ourselves up over clothes left unfolded. It's all about time management, and time management doesn't always mean 'go, go, go'.
When you're done, you're done
The half-five feeling was always one I used to love when leaving the door and heading home from work. When the workday is done, it's finished, it's over. Forget everything that goes with it. To make things easier for myself, I used to spend a bit of time making notes at the end of the day, so that I could come back in at nine the next morning and get straight back to the tasks in hand. All of the time between leaving those notes and coming back in, I tried to avoid thinking about work entirely. Unfortunately, this was easier said than done in my last job, but it gave me valuable prompts that I had some re-thinking to do. If you're a uni student or business owner switching off is always difficult. I also know this from my own experience, but that's why I try to focus spending my time on hobbies or family when I'm not working. If I get a gem of an idea when I'm in my downtime I'll admit that I do have to reach for a pen and notebook, but I will forever blame this on a sudden strike of inspiration...
Take your work outside!
If you can, I'd highly suggest you move from your workstation to the nearest exit. Take all of your things with you and work outside for a while. Student and self-employed readers, this one is definitely a little bit easier for you. If the sun is out, maybe consider getting your work done whilst catching a light tan. I like to go outside to work from about two o'clock onwards when I know I am prone to sluggishness. I also do this because there's more shade in the garden by then and I don't do direct sunlight, but really it's all about keeping myself focused! Understandably not everybody is in the position to do this, so make sure you're getting the absolute most out of your break times and consider moving your hobbies outside to make sure you get maximum exposure to the summertime. Photographers, painters, artisans and writers, self-employed bookkeepers and travel consultants - grab the opportunity to literally 'work from anywhere' and soak up the vitamin D!