After another long and snowy winter in New England, the leaves are finally out and the lilacs are in full bloom. But don’t blink.
Have you ever felt like that? By the time you get to wear t-shirts, you enjoy a few long days, Fourth of July, a vacation, and suddenly it’s labor day. School is back in session, the leaves are turning red, and your business is exactly where it was three months ago.
As the the days get longer, we think we have more free time or energy. At the same time, warmer weather means we want to be outside (for those of us up north, anyway) or vacationing with our families. While spending that time with our families is vital, three months of pure potential can very easily turn into three months of missed opportunity.
So how can you make this the most fulfilling, most productive summer ever? The secret is to build a smarter summer schedule that creates structure during a time of the year that lends itself to having less (with no school and longer days).
Here are three questions to help you build your smarter summer schedule:
1. What can I accomplish this summer?
Having a defined set of goals is the key to any kind of productivity.
When it comes to summer, we’re often shooting way too high.
For many of us, summer is the busiest time of year. If you have kids getting out of school or weddings or vacations on the horizon, you’re going to be strapped for time. Be realistic about what you can accomplish.
At the same time, you need real goals. Ask yourself, at the end of the summer, what do I want to be able to say I’ve accomplished? Write your answer on a piece of paper and put it where you can see it. Putting pen to paper will help you think through goals and prioritize accordingly, and looking at it daily will remind you what you’re working toward.
2. When am I most productive?
Our brains run on different schedules. I’m a night owl. I can crank out a blog post at 10:00pm no problem.
My wife, meanwhile, turns into a pumpkin at about nine-thirty. But she’s amazingly productive at the crack of dawn when all I’m good for is sipping coffee or going to the gym.
What’s your prime time? Being decisive about where you put your productive blocks of time and your downtime will help you get the most out of both, especially on those long summer days when our schedules are usually the most erratic.
Finally, different kinds of work are better suited to different times of day. When is best for you to do your creative work? When is best for you to do your administrative tasks? Rest and recreation? Have a plan and execute according to who you are.
3. What am I doing with my free time?
The flipside of knowing when you’re productive is knowing when you want to be free. But planning how you’re going to use that time is just as important as scheduling it.
Don’t veg out.
Sure, every once in a while we can treat ourselves to a Netflix binge, but if you’re plugging into a screen or eating junk food, you’re not going to feel more rested the next day (because you’re not actually resting). Rest must restore us, rebuild us, and fill us back up with life so we can pour ourselves out again.
Instead of zoning out with a screen, ask yourself, “What would be life-giving?” Spend time with your family, get outside, and make time for your passions and hobbies. A nice hike or walk will do wonders for your brain, body, and relationships. And don’t let a bad case of FOMO cause you to forget about the magic of sleep. Everything feels better on a full night of rest.
Summer is a wonderful time. It is, in fact, my favorite season. But priorities shift dramatically during this time and our businesses have a tendency to take a three-month vacation. A smarter schedule can help you adjust and refocus to get the most out of the longest days of the year.
If you want more guidance on how to get the most out of your summer–and how to be more productive all year long–StartupCamp has an exciting new program to announce. In just a few weeks, we’ll be launching StartupCamp+, a high-accountability, high-challenge small group coaching with experienced entrepreneurs as our coaches. There will be a limited number of spots available, and if you want to be the first to know when that launches, sign-up for our weekly email list.