Dog Days of Summer

Yes.  It’s hot.  Welcome to Northeast Tennessee in July.  Last week I was introducing an individual from Indiana to our area, and he mentioned that someone had told him that it doesn’t get *that* hot here.  I laughed in his face (in a respectable manner).  Given that we were standing directly in the sun at the time with temperatures over 85 degrees, he got the picture.

We all know that the summer heat makes it harder to work.  Higher temperatures cause our heart rates and metabolic systems to work harder, tiring our body.  A temperature change by as little as half a degree can send our bodies into overtime, causing us to both tire out and to become grumpy at the same time.  It is not a favorable condition to work in.

What does this mean for productivity?  According to the American Express Open Forum,

  • Workplace productivity drops by as much as 20% during summer months.
  • Employee attendance drops by 19%.
  • Projects take on average 13% longer.
  • Lunch hours increase 2.6 times.
  • Personal shopping (on the web) during work increases 200%.
  • Planning trips increase 130% during work hours.
  • Looking for other jobs during work hours increases 120%.

The picture is clear: the “lethargic” dog days of summer (as defined by dictionary.com) are an absolute drain on productivity.

So how do we combat the summer drain.  Productivity coach and business guru Darren Hardy gives the following recommendations:

  • Accept the fact that you do need a break, especially if you haven’t had one in a while.  Go ahead and plan that vacation and get off to it so you can get that much needed R&R.  Science shows that taking that time away will increase your focus and productivity once you get back in.  So go ahead and get it out of your system.
    • “…when you are at the office, be at the office and don’t be thinking about the beach. Then when you are at the beach, be fully at the beach.” -Jim Rohn
  • Once you’re back from vacation, review your goals.  We’re halfway through the year, so review your annual goals and make sure that you’re on track.  Adjust your work accordingly if needed.
  • Make sure you are continuing to have a clear and concise plan for each day already planned out the day before.  This way you know exactly what needs to be focused on each day.
    • “Before you start your day, finish it on paper.” – Jim Rohn
  • Create challenges for you and your team.  Find unique ways to push yourself.
  • Find ways to build comradery and excitement amongst your co-workers and to change up the status quo.  Have a company picnic.  Implement “short-hour Fridays”.  Spend a few hours working from a coffee shop instead of the normal office.
  • Prioritize activity over time.  Put the distractions away (put the phone down) so that you can hammer out the work that needs to be done.  That way, later in the day when you want to go enjoy the summer sun, you can without feeling as if you are letting yourself and everyone else down for doing so.

Leave a comment below on how you plan to take back your summer productivity.  P.S. – Why is it called the “dog days of summer”?  It all dates back to the Roman Empire.  The Romans knew that summer was hot, and they attributed it to the star Sirius in the constellation Canis Major.  A.k.a., the Dog Star.

Jeremiah Clark, M.A., is the co-owner of Appalachian Digital, a website development agency.  He is also a Lead Systems Analyst with the Cleveland Clinic.  You can contact Jeremiah at JeremiahSethClark@Outlook.com or connect with him on LinkedIn at Jeremiah Clark.