Have a Great Summer

It’s hard to choose what productivity advice to take. Who will have the right advice for you and your unique context? But if there’s anything we all have in common it’s the changing of the seasons, and summer seems to be at the same time relaxing and slow, quick and chaotic. In the thick of the season, we asked a few experts for some recommendations for your time, your work, your life in the long days of summer. Each person answered the question, What’s one piece of advice you can offer — for productivity, work, the in-between stuff — for the summer season?

The best productivity “hack” is presence. Advice about how to design your workplace, follow a formula, or use a particular app are all attempts at answering the same question: How can you cultivate presence? Contrary to what you might think, you’ll benefit more from slowing down rather than speeding up. 

Simone Stolzoff, author of The Good Enough Job: Reclaiming Life from Work (Portfolio, 2023)

Manage your energy over your time. Understand that it’s not time constraints that stop you from executing on your tasks; it’s energy constraints. You do actually have the time to do it; you just can’t find the energy to do it. For example, it’s not that you can’t find the five minutes it would take to put the clean pile of clothes away — it’s that when you look at the clean pile of clothes and think “I should put those away,” you experience a feeling of, “Ugh.” You don’t have the energy. If you want to be more productive, engage in activities that give you premium quality energy. These might include sleeping, cooking a great meal, or laughing with friends. Understand that any activity that gives you premium quality energy is a productive activity. 

Katherine Morgan Schafler, author of The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control (Portfolio, 2023)

Consider the possibility that you don’t have to do all of the things you’re telling yourself you have to do, and that it might be acceptable to relax. Of course, some of our tasks and duties are pretty close to non-negotiable. But it is always the case that, in the words of the therapist Sheldon Kopp, “you are free to do whatever you like; you need only face the consequences.” Reflect on the real likely consequences of jettisoning a given activity, being somewhat less responsive on email, or letting go of a goal that no longer has life in it. You might conclude that the costs are worth the benefit of getting to spend some of this season living at the speed of life. 

Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2021)

Instead of trying to decide on one thing to focus on, try making a prioritized list of things that tickle your fancy or you are inspired to work on. Focus most of your dedicated time and effort on the highest of those priorities while also resting assured you didn’t have to offer other good ideas a flat-out “no.” Also, the energy and insights from one project focus often feed the others. 

Justin McRoberts, author of Sacred Strides: The Journey to Belovedness in Work and Rest (Thomas Nelson, 2023)

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