June 14th, 2013 | 6:00 am

Four Tips to Stay Focused at Work This Summer

filed under Office Politics

iStock_000007154239XSmallBy Michelle Clark (Keene, New Hampshire)

It can be hard to keep your mind focused on work during the warm summer months when you can easily spout off a long list of things you would rather be doing or places you would rather be. And if you have children who are home for summer break, it adds an entirely new layer of distraction to infiltrate your thoughts throughout the work day.

While it may seem like an unfair sentence to be stuck in the office all day instead of basking in the warm summer sun with a cold drink and a good read, there are some things that you can do to make the best of the situation and enhance your career in the process.

Staying sharp and on point during vacation season can be accomplished in many different ways, but the best way to keep your brain focused on your task list is to set very specific goals for yourself to achieve before the end of summer. And because your attention span is already short, make sure your goals are varied enough to keep you interested and motivated to see them through to the end. Come up with a couple of simple and straightforward goals – one that you can measure and one that incorporates more intangible elements.

1. Build your professional network. This is one goal that is very easy to set, track, and measure. Tell yourself that you want to head into Labor Day weekend with five new professional contacts and then network like crazy to make it happen. Use social networking to stay informed about professional networking events in your area. You just never know when you might be shaking the hand of a key player in your industry, so make a good impression and always carry enough business cards.

Sometimes you don’t even need to go outside of your company to expand your contact list. Cast your networking net within your own company by introducing yourself to colleagues who you pass in the halls every day. Creating strong partnerships with other employees in your company is a great career advancement tool based on the traditional methods of teamwork and collaboration.

Concentrating on building up your network will help you bring your A-game to the office all summer long because you just never know when you will get an email or a phone call from a new contact presenting you with a new opportunity that might have otherwise passed you by.

2. Become a mentor. What better way to have a productive summer at work than to take a young employee or intern under your wing? If you constantly have the eager eyes of a hopeful mentee looking at you for direction and instruction, you won’t be tempted to slack off or cut corners when it comes to completing projects on time.

Pay attention to the newcomers at the office and identify someone you think has the potential to make a real impact in the company. By taking the time to teach and guide a young protégé, you will also reinforce your own skills and knowledge. At the end of the summer, you will feel good about the effort you have put into developing young talent and you will elevate your own confidence and self-esteem at work. These are the types of actions that get rewarded in business.

3. Provide more frequent updates. Your clients might be less available during the summer, but this does not mean that you should provide fewer updates. In fact, you should be communicating with clients just as much, if not more than any other time of year. If you are keeping your clients updated with progress reports and supplying them with new strategies, it shows them that they are a top priority even during the slower summer months. As you know, a little customer service goes a long way.

Try increasing the frequency of your communications internally too. The best way to make sure your direct reports are staying focused is to lead by example. If they don’t hear from you for an extended period of time, you can be sure that they will translate your lack of communication into permission for them to coast through the summer.

4. Take a vacation. This may seem contradictory to the idea of warding off distractions during the summer, but giving your brain a break from the daily grind will actually improve your focus and increase your productivity at work. Burn-out in business is a very real thing that many executives have succumbed to.

By scheduling time off for during the slow summer season, you can recharge, refocus, and reinvigorate yourself as you gear up to close out Q3 and dive right in to a busy Q4. If you can’t imagine switching off the work circuit in your head for an entire week or long weekend, pick out a couple of business coaching books to immerse yourself into. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure your interaction with the office is kept to a minimum, for at least a little while.

Go ahead and take a break –you’ve earned it!

1 comment

  1. Emily Wood

    Thanks for a great article. I’m struggling with this very issue at the moment. It’s good not to feel alone! You’ve also given me some useful tips to work with and get me back on track. Here’s to a productive, successful summer!