How To Concentrate On Work During Summer
Summertime fomo might demotivate us, but it can’t take us down. We have consulted Ali Donat, psychotherapist, and professional coach, to work through those feelings and have an accomplished, joyful season.
Text Valerie Dayan
It’s summertime, but living is not that easy when you scroll through idyllic beachside Instagram stories as you have to finish a presentation. Although I have a remote work setting, I’ve been working hard on this baby of a startup for the past few summers (hello, it’s Wonderflaw!). It can be pretty challenging to find the will to complete a million tasks when the weather is balmy, a casual-siesta-happy-hour-drinks-dips-in-the-water is calling your name, and the entire world seems to be on vacation. In the quest to attain midsummer work concentration, I’ve talked to the London-based UKCP (United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapy) accredited integrative psychotherapist and executive coach Ali Donat, whose previous corporate experience has led him to guide prominent professionals to achieve their goals at work and personal life. Here are Donat’s mindful tips to stay motivated at work during the summer season and beyond.
Summertime Fomo, Explained
We are all human. On an instinctual level, we are beings who avoid pain and seek pleasure, and what’s more pleasurable than enjoying a hot summer’s day? Just imagine you have endured the cold and dark winter, and you can finally enjoy the sun, long days, and perhaps being on the beach. You could say that we are genetically programmed to enjoy the summer as well. Your body changes during the summer. You eat less food because you are nourished by the sun. You are more active and generally more favorable due to the changes around you. Just look at the advertising campaigns during the summer. They emphasize a time of enjoyment and pleasure. When physical, environmental, societal, and psychological factors signal that you should enjoy the summer, can you blame yourself for wanting to do so? People should not assume that summer is a time of splashing fun for everyone. It has been my experience that festive periods such as summer and winter holidays can also be mentally and emotionally challenging periods for some of us. They can bring up feelings of loneliness, being left behind, and grief as they can remind us about loved ones we have lost.
Bring The Focus To Yourself
Following what I just set out, you can give yourself a break and be kind to yourself. It is the summer, and it is completely fine to want to enjoy it. Social media has exasperated feelings of “fomo” for everyone, and some may need help around feeling like they are not having enough fun. It is a feeling we can all identify with. Sitting at work, scrolling through pictures of friends enjoying themselves during the summer… Maybe you can focus on your idea of “enough fun.” You can ask yourself the simple question: “What do I enjoy?” or “What makes me have fun?” This may take the focus on others and bring it back to yourself. Are there things you can do to have fun? These simple yet effective questions about self-awareness often get overlooked amid feelings of being left behind or even envy in social media.
You can always talk to someone. It is the most straightforward act that often gets overlooked and can provide immense relief. You can share your feelings and allow others to meet you where you are emotionally. Even the closest ones around you may not know what you are going through and may assume you are enjoying yourself in the summer. Finding people you can open up to is essential.
Be Kind To Yourself
You are human, and it is entirely ok to feel like you want to switch off work and enjoy yourself during the summer. This simple self-awareness may allow you to put feelings of self-doubt and perhaps even anger into perspective. It can be tough to be working hard during the summer when everyone else seems to be having fun. Try not to put additional pressure on yourself by thinking about what you should be doing and allow yourself to be ok with not being ok.
Summer provides fantastic opportunities to do activities that you cannot do otherwise. Life in cities slows down as it gets less crowded, and it’s a marvelous time to be outside. You can take advantage of colleagues and clients being on holiday. Find out what you enjoy and permit yourself to enjoy it. What is the one thing you wanted to do all winter but couldn’t? Are there friends or family you wanted to see, but it was too cold, or you were too tired to do so? Did you want to take up a new sport or hobby? Focusing on what you enjoy and doing it may give you a stronger sense of satisfaction than feeling resentful of friends on social media who are on holiday.
Take Responsibility And Make Meaning
There is great freedom in understanding why you are stuck at your desk on a hot summer day. You can think about how your hard work is paying off in ways that advance your career or your finances. You can even evaluate what makes your professional life meaningful to you. These existential questions can help you make meaning out of your current situation. It may be time for a change in your career. Wherever you arrive, you can take steps to take more responsibility and make your hard work during the summer a choice rather than an imposition.
You may often find that summer will pass you by while you grapple with difficult emotions, and it is time to “go back to work” for everyone else. So plan your summer. Imagine yourself walking into your office on September 1st. What is the one thing you would like to have done this season? Keep it simple to allow yourself to stick to whatever it is you want to do. You may think it is counterintuitive to plan for leisure activities but think of it as a way to avoid that dreadful feeling in September like you wasted your time and could have done more. You can help yourself feel a sense of achievement by using your time better during the summer.
Throughout history, summer has been a time of festivals where communities came together and enjoyed the harvest of their labor. There is an inherent need to connect with others in each of us. After all, we come into this world connected to another human being. You can use the summer to connect with your friends and make new ones. Summer provides a fantastic opportunity to be outside with others. I firmly believe that summer also provides a way for people to be more open and share as feelings, thoughts, and ideas come out into the open.
Wait – What About Employers?
First and foremost, they can empathize. Employers should also keep in mind that their employees are human beings. They are affected by seasonal changes, and it is normal for them to feel demotivated even in the summer. Managers can remember what it was like during the summers when they had to work long hours and understand where their employees are emotionally. Then, employers can think about what the individual team members may need. These can range from providing a way for employees to process their feelings to activities that help them feel more connected.
Summer also provides excellent opportunities for employers to engage with their teams more actively and openly. They can try to bring employees “out” of their desks to think and express themselves more openly. These experiences can allow teams to connect in similar ways we all can as individuals. There are many ways of achieving this, which I am sure all successful companies have thought about. One novel idea I have recently seen, which I thought was quite clever, was a “summer campus.” A tech company created a retreat on a resort that its employees used throughout the summer, where they come together, enjoy themselves, and make meaningful connections and ideas for the company. What a cool idea!