When summer rolls around, it’s easy to fall into perpetual vacation mode. Our to-do lists seem less urgent and before we know it, productivity is a thing of the past. But here’s the thing: Having a productive summer doesn’t mean spending your time in a cubicle while your friends are out having fun. It’s all about working smarter, not longer.
Ahead, we share some tips for saving time throughout the workday so you can clock out at a reasonable hour and reserve the evenings for your social life—or your side hustle.
Think about how long it typically takes you to get focused on a single task. (And, yes, let’s stick to a single task. We all know by now that multitasking is a myth.) Chances are you don’t immediately jump into work mode. No, you probably need to have your morning coffee, get settled at your desk, and select your favorite playlist first.
Once you’re settled in, avoid taking long breaks throughout the day. Instead, opt for a series of shorter, smaller breaks that will help you quickly decompress. Aim to have these breaks be about 10 minutes long. This can mean you get up and take a quick walk around the block, check social media for a few minutes, or chat with a colleague. If you take a longer break, it’ll take you longer to recharge and switch back into work mode, eating up your time.
Often, many of the items on our to-do lists can quickly be done and checked off without much thought. Do you keep putting off writing a certain email? Maybe you keep telling yourself you’ll pay your bills later in the week?
As management guru David Allen suggests in his book Getting Things Done, if you can check a task off in less than two minutes, knock it out it right then and there. Tackling the small projects as they come will free up mental space for you to focus on the big ones.
We’re always more productive when we get a chance to focus on our strengths. Consider, what can you easily achieve and what’s best handled by someone else? Having a productive summer requires you to understand your limitations and time constraints so that you can delegate and outsource tasks to others. You’ll not only save time streamlining your to-do list, but you’ll find your productivity levels increase. Here’s more on how to delegate in a respectful manner.
Inbox zero is one of those goals that everyone seems to have, yet it eludes even the savviest email users. It’s also a big time-suck. It’s one thing to respond to one email at the beginning or end of a mental break at work or as you’re transitioning from one task to another. It’s another thing to have your day eaten up by constantly checking and responding to non-urgent emails.
Unless you’re expecting an important message, make it a point to allocate 30 minutes two or three times a day to check your inbox. When you promise yourself you’ll check your email only at certain hours, you’ll find it that much easier to mentally log off and enjoy your summer evenings.
This story was originally published on July 19, 2018. It has been updated (and will continue to be updated) to include new tips, advice, and guidance, to ensure we are always giving you the best, most valuable resources.