Whether half your marketing team goes on vacation at once or you don’t feel like you can be OOO on a summer Friday without getting an SOS, you might need help slowing down your summer. Here are five easy ways to plan ahead and get the most out of the sunshine season before Labor Day hits.
- Write a list of 100 dreams. Career coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine has her clients create what she calls a “List of 100 Dreams.” This is a completely un-edited brainstorm, like a bucket list, of anything you want to do, learn, see, or experience in life. Time and productivity expert, Laura Vanderkam, explains that part of the benefit of aiming for 100 is the challenge in itself. Shooting for such a large number means that you could include anything from taking a trip to New Zealand to buying the bed sheets you’ve always wanted. “When people walk around with the story that ‘I have no time,’ they often don’t think of things they’d like to do with their time. Then, when leisure time (or potential high-impact time at work) appears, they are not prepared to seize it. It is spent in mindless ways that aren’t particularly memorable,” Vanderkam writes. “A List of 100 Dreams offers options. If the weekend schedule looks particularly light, maybe you could visit that state park. If a work trip gets canceled, maybe you can work on that white paper instead of cleaning out your inbox (again).”
- Choose three “anchor events” for your weekend. If you know you have three things to look forward to this weekend, it can not only help you prioritize your work during the week so you can enjoy those events, but it can also help to keep your weekend from being overtaken by chores and errands and Netflix. A third reason Vanderkam recommends this exercise? It can recharge you for Monday. Soak in your summer with three anchor events each weekend like a bike ride, a festival and hitting a new restaurant (or checking some things off your List of 100 Dreams).
- Plan a vacation and stick to it. In 2018, 52% of American workers didn’t use all the vacation days they earned, according to Project: Time Off. The Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing study tracking generations of participants since 1948, found that “men who don’t take vacations were 30% more likely to have a heart attack and for women it went up to 50%,” according to Brigid Schulte. She says the research is clear. Workers who don’t take time off are “sicker, less productive, stressed, and more anxious and depressed—that affects your work as well.“Because the results of the study are unchanged even when taking into account factors such as diabetes and cigarette smoking, Elaine Eaker, a coauthor of the study, told the New York Times, “It shows how the body reacts to a lifestyle of stress. This is real evidence that vacations are important to your physical health.” Schulte notes that, “The key reason people give for not taking vacations is that they don’t feel they can leave work.” Setting a goal date by which to schedule the vacation, communicating it openly with co-workers or employees and delegating anything else to key partners are critical steps to staying healthy this summer—and over the long haul.
- Keep one day meeting free. Consider blocking out an entire day each week to stay meeting free. While it might seem impossible, The Job Network says, “Setting aside one work day that’s just for you to actually work will do wonders for your productivity.” At treetree, we have a monthly focus day that allows the entire agency to work from home or anywhere else without the distractions (and many of the meetings) an office can bring. More productivity means more time for sunshine.
- Delegate at work and at home. Schulte recommends you, “clarify your priorities, delegate, and talk openly with your colleagues about your time off,” in your schedule so no one is caught off guard by your OOO message. You might also consider outsourcing household chores, like grocery shopping, house cleaning or cooking, so you can spend that precious time working on your List of 100 Dreams or simply enjoying the summer.
But what about all that work you’re worried might suffer when you close up shop early on Fridays or when half your team goes on vacation at the same time? Can you delegate then?