We echo Georgi Gospodinov (this year’s International Booker Prizer winner) in his book “Time Shelter” when he says “August is the afternoon of the year”. August is the end of summer, the time when we come back home from vacations, and revisit our goals for the last half of the year.
But, just like some afternoons can be, August is a time when we might feel…unmotivated, lethargic, and maybe a bit lazy (no judgement, we’ve been there), as we’re waiting for nightfall. This pattern typically has a negative impact on our personal and professional end-of-year goals. You don’t need to go through another year like that! It’s not too late to turn the tides and use this august to level you up into your productive era come autumn.
In our experience, the following productivity tips are some of the most simple, yet effective ways to get back in the groove after your summer vacation. These methods are going to help you work smarter, not harder.
4 Ways to Get Back In the Groove
Failure to plan means planning to fail! While we’re sure you’ve heard that phrase a million times, the sentiment stands true, regardless of the cheesiness. Your plan needs these four methods in order to move you closer to crushing your end-of-year goals.
Take a Buffer Day
Most of us want to spend as many days on vacation as possible, and so we plan on returning to work the day after we return from our holiday. But is that really the best option? Just imagine – you get home late, you’re tired from spending hours traveling, the only thing you want to do is shower, eat and sleep. The next day, you not only have to get ready for work but also unpack, do laundry, get your home back in shape, go shopping, etc. You didn’t give yourself a buffer day! By not taking a day off in-between vacation and coming back to real life, you’re throwing yourself into chaos, where you have so much to do, but definitely not enough time. This leads to stress and, most of the time, causes people to procrastinate or to slack at work because they’re so stressed about all the other errands they need to run.
By taking one extra day off, you allow yourself to have time to get your home and personal life in order before you return to work and start doing the same there. That eases the stress and helps you plan out your day and be more prepared to get back into the groove of things.
Declutter and Organize
Regardless of whether you work in an office or at home, your workspace is likely a little messy, since the days before leaving for vacation are typically stressful and hectic. That’s why one of the first things you need to do is get your space in order. Spend the first 20 to 30 minutes of your workday decluttering and organizing. That may mean cleaning the desktop, throwing away old pens, buying a new organizer, removing any leftover unneeded paperwork, and so on.
Even though this may sound silly, the effect of seeing your desk clean and organized will 100% make you feel better about tackling your next tasks, and it will ensure that you have a space that enables you to be more productive throughout the day. A clear working space creates a clear mind, ready to focus on the goals in front of you.
Catch Up On What You Missed Out
Before you start diving into your tasks and building a to-do list, it’s key to catch up on everything you missed out on while you were away. We all know that feeling of getting back to work and seeing hundreds of new e-mails, only some of them being spam emails and the rest being relevant. By taking time to clear your inbox out, you can be certain that you’re not missing out on any important news or changes before you take new steps to finish projects.
It might also be a good idea to catch up with your team or your boss during that period so that they can let you in on any kind of discussions they’ve had while you were on holiday.
When you’ve spent a few days away from the office, and your brain is already buzzing from all the experiences and memories, focusing on your work is difficult. And the more distractions you have surrounding you, the less productive you will be. Work distractions, like the constant flow of e-mails, Slack messages, and online meetings, are enough, but if you add on top of that, text messages popping up every few seconds, Instagram and Twitter notifciations, and the temptation to play that game you can’t stop playing, your time to take action on your goals will quickly burn away. The best thing to do is put your phone on “work mode”, so that you only get the notifications you need – emergency phone calls, texts from only a certain group of people – but no social media. This will free up time to focus on the task you have at hand without interruptions.
If having your phone near you is a problem in itself, you can put it away – choose a distance that will enable you to hear if you get a call, but that’s not so close that you can reach and grab it at any second.
It’s good to schedule your workday in intervals, kind of like athletes do with workouts. The method we recommend is 30 minutes of dedicated work and then 5 minutes of rest, where you can do whatever you want. Along with that, you should aim for two breaks of around 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon and one larger break for lunch. By doing so, you will be able to be your most focused self when you need to get a task done and then fully relax once it’s time to take a breather.
Increase Your Productivity With the Ivy Lee Method
Ivy Lee, a famous business consultant, made his name at the beginning of the 20th century by helping some of the most renowned entrepreneurs of that time. He was a successful businessman and one of the pioneers in the field of public relations; however, his most celebrated achievement is perhaps the “Ivy Lee Method of Productivity.”
History tells us that 1918, Mr. Charles M. Schwab, one of the richest men in the world and the president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, wanted to find a way to improve the efficiency of his team and find a better way to get work done. And so he arranged a meeting with the famous consultant, Ivy Lee. When Schwab brought Lee to his office, he gave him a simple task – “Show me how to do this better.”
Lee told him that he needed to talk to each of his executives for 15 minutes, and then he will come up with a solution. For this, he didn’t want any pay and famously said, “After three months, you can send me a check for whatever you feel this advice is worth to you.”
During these 15-minute conversations, Ivy Lee explained to each executive his daily routine for productivity:
- At the end of each working day, write down the six most important things you need to do tomorrow. Make sure not to write more than six tasks.
- After that, prioritize these tasks considering their importance.
- When you start work the next day, put your focus only on the first task. Work on it until you complete it, and then move on to the next one on the list.
- Approach the rest of the list the same way. At the end of the day, if there are any unfinished tasks, move them to the list for the next one.
- Repeat this process daily.
When Schwab and his team heard this strategy, they decided it was worth giving it a go – after all, it wasn’t difficult or complicated to do. After three months, Schwab was so impressed with the results of his company and the progress it had made that he called Lee back into his office and gave him a check for $25,000. Money that’s now equivalent to around half a million dollars.
As You Get Back Into Your Productivity Groove…
As you can see, avoiding the lazy temptations of August and the following autumn season mean adopting a few simple routines and disciplines. Once you implement some of them, like keeping your phone away from you while you focus, you will see how much you can actually get done without the sneaky distractions.
We’re always looking to hear your feedback and success stories! Send those in so we can share them with other business owners and give them hope! In the meantime, follow us on social media where we will more tips on how to manage your business, deal with setbacks, and run a productive business.