When I served as communication director for an international mattress manufacturer, we attended multiple trade shows each year. At each one, we rolled out new releases, held parties to show off our new wares and traveled on insane schedules.
The shows ran on a yearly schedule – the same time each and every single year.
Yet, a month before each show, a mad scramble ALWAYS erupted in the offices and on the factory floor. It was as if all of a sudden everyone remembered we had to get something new out the door before show time. Never mind all the invitations we needed to design, showrooms to move around, food to order, flights to book, nails to get done… Oy vay!
Every summer, I see many of my entrepreneur friends do the same crazy dance as summer approaches. What do you mean it’s summer already. What am I going to do about the kids? How will I cope?
Summertime survival strategies
I’ve been working on and off from home-base most of my adult life and I can tell you it’s never easy to stay productive when the nice weather hits. If you’ve got kids, your life turns into an insane shuffle of work and taxing kids around. But with planning, focus and determination, it can be done. Feel free to steal my summertime survival strategies.
Schedule religiously – If the kids get home from camp the same time every day, start training your clients ahead of time that you’re unavailable during certain periods of the day. Put everything in your calendar using color blocks so it’s easy to see at a glance when you’re available for work and when you’re on mom-duty. Trust me your clients will appreciate your summertime limitations – especially if you meet your deadlines smiling and ready to take on more work.
Set boundaries for email – Just because you’re tethered to work with that amazing smart phone of yours doesn’t mean you have to respond immediately to every email. Schedule email check-ins at certain times during the day (such as 9 & 11 am and 2 & 4 pm) and then get off email and get down to work. Not responding to email immediately has an added bonus – your brain has longer to process a thoughtful response that’s focused on solutions. (Outlook Allows you to change how often e-mail comes to your inbox under Tools – Run Schedule- Edit Schedule. Choose to only look at your e-mail at certain times in the day for example: 12 noon and 4:30 pm )
Set boundaries for social media – Your klout score is not as important as your sanity. Learn to schedule posts on social media. Dip into the stream for some one-on-one conversations at set times and stick to it. Saying you’ll spend 20 minutes and ignoring your calendar notification that it’s time to get down to work is a sign of addiction – not productivity. At last year’s WIBN conference, Nora Young shared the Rescue Time app for measuring productivity. I hate it as much as I love it.
Seek out work before your vacation – If you know you’re going off the grid in August, reach out to your clients now and let them know. And ask if there’s any way you can help them prior to your departure. This gives you a great excuse to chat with a current or previous client as well as providing a sense of immediacy for work they may need done.
Take a workcation – If you’re too busy to take a week off, take your work with you. You can be just as productive at a campsite or in a cabana while the kids play at the park, right? Just make sure you set boundaries around work time so it doesn’t prevent you from enjoying a little bit of fun in the sun too.
Take time to play – It’s an old cliché that the kids will only be young once, but it’s true. If you’re lucky enough to work from home, take advantage of time with your kids – and then work like a dog when they got to bed. Clients come and go and the good ones will understand that everyone needs balance.
Take time for you – This might come as shock, but you are not your business. You are a human being with needs and wants that can’t be satisfied by your computer. Give yourself permission to disconnected so you can connect with what gives you pleasure.
Working from home in the summer is hard work – especially when the screen door is constantly banging in the never ending quest for popsicles. Get used it. And enjoy it! The alternative is working at a job where you never get time to enjoy that amazing family of yours. Puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?
I would love to hear how you stay sane, productive and HAPPY during summer vacation. Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn (whichever one works best for you) or leave a comment below.