Don’t let summer’s lazy days take their toll on your productivity.
Whether you’re currently employed or searching for a new opportunity, it can be difficult to stay productive during the summertime. Between the energy-draining, hot, humid weather and the influx of social events, it’s no wonder we have trouble staying on task.
Here are some ways you can increase productivity and boost energy levels so the lazy days of summer don’t take their toll.
Catch some ZZZs
A good night’s sleep can do wonders to improve your focus all day long. Experts recommend getting between 6-8 hours of shuteye on a regular basis. To help you fall asleep faster, turn off all electronics so your room is completely dark and crank up the AC. Cool temperatures – 65 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler – cause sleepiness, and the white noise from your air conditioner or fan will help block out any unwanted, disruptive sounds. If you still feel wrecked after a good night’s sleep, you were likely woken up during a deep sleep phase. Combat this by using the Sleep Cycle app, which wakes you in your lightest sleep phase – my colleagues swear by it!
Swap out your cup of joe
It can be tempting to chug a cup of coffee – or five – throughout the day to stay alert. However, experts believe that the effects of caffeine found in coffee are fleeting because your body absorbs it too quickly, soon leaving you in need of another pick-me-up. Trade in your cup of joe for a mug of green tea. The caffeine is absorbed into the body more slowly, and you’ll receive a steadier boost of energy over a longer period of time. In addition, resist the urge to drink your caffeine first thing in the morning. Research gathered by Steven Miller, a Ph.D. candidate at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, found that drinking coffee first-thing in the morning diminishes its energy-boosting effects.
Forget the big, heavy lunches – stick to a series of smaller snacks packed with lean protein and carbohydrates throughout the work day. I’m a big fan of an apple with a Mini Babybel Light or some peanut butter. This will not only break up your day, but provide you with a continuous stream of energy from morning to night.
Plot out your projects
Track your energy levels throughout the day for a week and look for patterns. Pay special attention to the points in the day where you’re most and least productive so you can schedule your work appropriately. For instance, if you’re more energized in the mornings, plan to work on the projects that require a lot of concentration and save the mindless tasks when you’re feeling more lethargic.
If you’re feeling especially tired and slow, dehydration may be to blame. This is more common during the hot and humid summer months when you’re more prone to sweat. To consume the recommended 2-3 liters of water each day, bring a large, refillable water bottle with you to the office. If you’re getting bored of plain old water, try mixing it up by adding slices of strawberries, cucumbers, limes or lemons. I also like to add mint extract or chlorophyll with mint to my water for a refreshing afternoon beverage. As an added bonus, the peppermint scent is known to invigorate the mind, boost mood, and promote concentration.
Take a break
If you find yourself losing focus, take a break or switch to a different activity. The sheer boredom of a long, monotonous task could be draining your energy. When you feel your concentration begin to wane, it’s time to change things up. Get up from your desk and take a quick break to refill your water bottle or follow up with a colleague in person. Even a break lasting only a couple of minutes can help you refocus on the work at hand.
Load up on Vitamin D
According to an article in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, new research shows that Vitamin D could increase your energy levels. Give your body an extra boost by taking in a little sun during your lunch hour. Getting 10-15 minutes of natural sunlight, even on a cloudy day, provides a good dose of Vitamin D. Don’t forget your sunscreen, though – sunburn will raise your body temperature, causing you to become dehydrated and feel more sluggish. For those who turn into lobsters in the sun, consider taking a Vitamin D-3 supplement or adding 3 ounces of salmon to your salad instead.
Try these tips to keep your cool and your focus for the rest of the summer.
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Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.