The question for many is : when to drive on . . . and when to dive into that holiday vibe?
The glorious, long days of summer are upon us. That dreamy season of sunshine, fun and adventure; of heat, light, carefree gaiety and endless possibilities is now well underway.
But for many of us, summertime can be a bit overwhelming . . . it presents both a peak opportunity for business as well as a prime time to enjoy holiday or time with family – as well as, possibly, the imminent challenge of keeping children active and happy during the long weeks ahead. Unsurprisingly, it can be especially difficult to find the perfect work-life balance during these months.
But striking this balance can be the difference between a happy, fulfilled summer and a hot, frantic and exhausting few months.
Entrepreneurs and business owners are able to decide how to divide their time — but also have the responsibility of trying to get it right. So here are some things for us all to consider . . .
The concept of vacation
We’re all aware of the huge benefits of having a recuperative break . . . which takes us away from the routine, effort and commitments of work. This kind of break allows for rest, rejuvenation — and also for new experiences and fresh ways of thinking, which can heighten motivation, inspiration and insight.
But despite this — plus the well-known fact that stressed-out employees are often less productive, less engaged, and more likely to call in sick than those with more balanced lives — the time we afford ourselves on our ‘annual breaks’ has been steadily shrinking over recent years. There are many reasons for this : the rising number of small business owners (*1), lean staffing, fear of layoffs, technology addiction, a mentality of urgency and frenzy, and also ignorance about how our bodies work.
On a basic level, we humans are energy machines. The energy we use or give out during the course of our workday and work year needs to be replaced – otherwise fatigue sets in, stress and exhaustion build and productivity plummets.
So it’s a basic law of effort: quality output requires quality input. To really thrive, we need quality rest and recuperation during our every day, and certainly during our working year.
The fact that we are physically able to ether take or make arrangements for a decent time away from work is a blessing. This is a chance to get imaginative with the outcomes we’d like to create. It can be treated as an opportunity to invest the time and energy in ourselves or our families – or to something new or different. We can ask ourselves what would we like to experience – or what memories (or things) would we like to create with others, or even alone.
Alternatively, it’s also a rare chance to not be set on outcomes — to be intentional about ‘downtime’ : knowing that relaxation is beneficial for us means we need do nothing and feel good about it !
Amidst the summer hype, we do well to be beware of the expectations we put upon ourselves and others to get things ‘right.’ It’s easy to get into a mind space where things need to be perfect, which of course, isn’t possible. So, it’s how we deal with this realization that determines our well-being.
Savour the moment . . . and ‘imperfection’
However we choose to spend out time, it always helps to savour the moment. Otherwise many of us spend much of our time doing one thing while paying attention to something else, so we’re not fully aware of we’re doing, saying, or thinking. Not only do we miss out on many meaningful moments when we do this, we also fail to notice the assumptions and choices we’re making throughout the day.
For some people, striving for perfection seems like a huge motivator in their lives. They may feel that letting go of perfectionism feels like giving in to inertia or giving up.
Recognizing failures, biases, or even smaller hurdles for what they are allows us to take charge — and nothing’s more motivating than this. And when our plans go askew anyway, an honest view lets us humbly reassess, make amends, adjust, and get on with our day.
So be fully involved in the activities you choose to do and embrace what the present brings — no regrets.
One way of taking the weight of decision-making out of every day is to think through the structure of a healthy work-life balance in advance.
We can be creative when coming up with a summer plan which consists of fun, adventure and relaxation . . . as well as assigned time for work — and then enjoy!
It’s also worth bearing in mind that as you consider work objectives and goals, studies have shown that more general monthly goals and study activities can work better in this period than detailed daily plans — the latter can demotivate, as inevitable distractions often render the daily to-do list ineffective . . . On the other hand, leaving room for improvisation in such a list can reap the best results.
One way of allowing more time for summer pleasure is to simply get more done in less time. This can be done by getting focused and productive with our energy, so that we use the hours when you’re most productive to get things done. Studies have shown that as few as 1 -3 hours of concentrated work can serve to be as effective as a traditional work day.
So master the art of ‘deep work’ – be that lengthy retreats dedicated to a specific task; developing a daily ritual; or taking a ‘journalistic’ approach to seizing moments of deep work when you can throughout the day. Whichever approach, the key is to determine your length of focus time, protect it and stick to it.
Be more aware of your emotions
We all want to enjoy these special months . . . to feel joy with our family and connected with friends; to feel the exhilaration of adventure or the peace of serenity; the buzz of activity or a quiet moment of achievement. It’s in our very biology to crave joy, appreciation and fulfillment. But we need to allow ourselves these feelings, and learn that we can choose happiness and joy when we want to with a simple change of perception. So choose to fully enjoy the successes, fun and laughter — and choose learn from the challenges.
A big part of feeling content with how we divide our time and energy, is remembering to celebrate the wins — however small. Taking time to feel a sense of achievement not only feels good, but it’s one of the biggest motivators out there.
Embrace the season
Whilst the summer months may seem to stretch ahead, if you’re stuck in an office or at your desk, there’s a chance you might not even see much of the sun. If so, that needs to change ASAP. Sunshine is a healing, rejuvenating natural phenomenon, so enjoy it — as well as longer days and feeling more energized — while these things more naturally occur.
That work / life balance . . .
So really, how we strike the balance this summer can be the difference between our success and our failure. Failure can come in many forms (besides a lack of sales) — ways such as sickness, exhaustion or even a simple loss of passion.
As can success ! Success can be as simple as time well-spent.
There is a word on the right side of the hyphen in ‘work-life’ balance. The ‘life’ side is essential to resupply the resources needed to get the work done well — and, living a happy and fulfilled life is, after all, the point of all the work, isn’t it?
Here’s to enjoying the brighter, longer, warmer days while they last . . .