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  • Writer's pictureJanice Otremba

Summer Slump? How to stay motivated through the fun season at work.

The sun is shining, the AC is blasting and I’m just waking up. I grab my first cup of tea and begin traveling to Africa.

Well, not really. But I’m living vicariously through my friends, who have been posting daily anecdotes and photographs on social media of their bucket-list trek through the Sahara.

It’s been making me think: What the hell am I doing this summer? I guess I’m mostly feeling major FOMO - that’s fear of missing out - as I unpack boxes after a big move.

A lot of you may be feeling the same. If you don’t have something planned this season (or even if you do), you can find yourself in a cycle of FOMO or feeling unproductive at work.

In fact, an Office Pulse report found productivity goes down 20 percent, attendance dips 19 percent, project turnaround times increase 13 percent and workers are more distracted (up to 45 percent) in the summertime.

It’s not entirely our fault, though. It’s a little bit of conditioning. We grew up going to school and having summers off. Especially if you’re a parent, you feel like you’re supposed to be doing something all summer (in B.C., we call this fire and smoke season, cough cough). There’s guilt when you’re at work and the kids are at home. You want to make their summer a great experience by planning a camping trip for the weekend, but you also need to grocery shop and clean the house after a full week’s work. That’s a fast road to burnout.

Summer can highlight work-life imbalances. What’s wild is some people on holiday don’t have the ability to turn their work mind off. During vacation, they’re still worried about the volume of work or how many emails will be awaiting them. Plus, when colleagues are away, someone has to pick up their slack (or yours). Typically, the workload balances out by summer’s end, but at what cost?

To get myself and clients out of this, what I call the “Summertime Slump,” I have a few ideas.

Take good notes and follow up. From a business perspective, you’re trying to get everything done, but the people you usually connect with are on holiday. Their holidays can impede our own sense of productivity, and it can force us into waiting mode.

Rather than sending emails out into the summertime abyss, I proactively take good notes so I don’t have to wonder what’s going on if there’s a delayed response. Not only does this allow me to manage my workflow, but it also means I am not flooding other people’s inboxes while they are also away (you’re welcome!).

And when you take really good notes, the other person might even say “Wow, you’re good at tracking my whereabouts!” Full disclosure, I never intentionally stalk my clients, however, I am intentional about staying on top of opportunities, despite hit-and-miss vacation schedules.

Prioritizing is crucial in these slow, hot months. As employees and managers, we must manage expectations during the Summertime Slump. We may be carrying other people’s loads, and they may be carrying ours.

Let’s consider if it’s OK that a project has less clients than during winter months or if it’s OK that we took an extra day for something that usually only takes one. More isn’t always better. If you manage expectations early enough, for clients or for a boss, it might help mitigate some of the stress we face inside when it’s hot outside.

Prioritization is necessary for outside-of-work life, too. When I found myself trapped in vacay FOMO, I had to give my head a shake. If I wanted to spend the $15,000 and strap myself into an open-air all terrain safari vehicle I could have, if I planned for it. Right now, I am prioritizing unpacking my new home and office and putting my time into reno’s; Africa can wait.

It really comes down to gratitude. What helped me let go of my FOMO in the moment was focusing on what I was doing and being grateful for the progress happening on my home front. Ultimately, it will bring me pleasure and joy to have it completed and be truly settled in.

If you are stuck in a summer slump, binging on Netflix with the days just rolling by and a general feeling of MEH, you might need to do it differently next year. Set your intentions, make a plan, take good notes (setting expectations with clients and colleagues), prioritize what’s important to you and how you want to achieve it. Finally, give thanks for where you are, what you have, and get excited about what’s next – because guess what? Africa is never off the table!

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