Summer Hours: Friend or Foe?

summerWhen was the last time any of us actually had some free time? It seems like everything in life is becoming more condensed and busier, leaving us with little idle time. People tell me all the time how they get caught up in the daily grind of working their 9-5, which has mysteriously morphed into their 8-6 and then slowly into their 8-8 job. With Memorial Day right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how to get in synch with summer work hours.

Here are some tips to help get you thinking about how to use your summer hours work schedule to your advantage:

Tip 1: Remind yourself that summer hours exist. I hear this all the time: “I know I have summer hours but I have so much work to do and time got the best of me”. Before you know it, you’re leaving the office at 3 or 4pm when summer hours on a Friday meant leaving at noon. Then, you might ask yourself what the point of having summer hours was in the first place. To avoid the potential heartache of missing out on summer hours, get into the right mindset. On average, there are 14 weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This gives you 14 opportunities to leave work early or, if your company has a 9 working days policy over a 2 week period of time, that’s 14 Fridays off of work altogether. Remember the magic number: 14.

Tip 2: Find out who else has summer hours. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to find out who amongst friends and family work for companies that partake in summer hours. Make a list and save it in your phone so the next time you’re looking to catch a drink, lunch, or baseball game, you’ll know who’s most likely to be available. 

Tip 3: Make plans. I know I’ve mentioned this in other posts, but make some plans to get out there and have fun. Take advantage of what Chicago (or whatever city you’re in) has to offer and decide to take part. By making plans in advance, you are forcing yourself into a schedule that does two things: increases productivity while you are at work AND gives you a reason to shut down your computer for the weekend and leave on time.

Tip 4: Be responsible. Summer hours are a luxury and there might be times when it’s just not feasible to get out of the office early. When this happens, take a few minutes to get outside and then refocus on doing what you can. Do what you absolutely need to and remind yourself that the rest can be done on Monday. Write it on a to-do list and revisit it then.

Tip 5: Set at least one goal. With the weather getting nicer, maybe it’s time to start training for a 5K, riding a bike X number of miles, taking dance or pottery classes, or saving enough money during the summer to plan a great getaway in the dead of winter. Whatever it is, use the summer to set a goal and stick to it. Psychologically speaking, the combination of hopefully nicer weather and being focused on a task outside of work is a win-win. The weather improves overall mood by increasing Vitamin D production and setting a goal outside of work gets your mind off of what needs to be done at the office (and will most likely help you get out on time). Use your extra free time to work on the goal you set for yourself.