Summer used to mean endless Popsicles, sleep-away camp, and, best of all, no responsibilities, except for maybe a school-mandated summer reading list. Now, for most of us, this season is often just as monotonous as the rest. Sunny days start with early wake-up calls and are then spent in the office 鈥 even the evenings are filled with lengthy to-do lists. And the allure of what you could be doing during under that warm summer sun makes it much more difficult to focus than it is from, say, October to May. Johnny Warstr枚m 鈥 CEO and co-founder of Mentimeter, an online platform to help keep participants engaged during presentations 鈥 explains specifically why getting the job done during the summer is such a struggle and how to get back on track.

Why Your Focus Is Foggy

A woman holds a tablet as she gazes out the window of her office

1. The heat is on. No one will be surprised to read that high temperatures and business professional attire don鈥檛 really mesh. And even with air conditioning, many workplaces can still get uncomfortably hot as the thermometer rises to ridiculous temps. As your body also begins to overheat, you can lose your ability to concentrate as effectively. 鈥淚f you work for a company that adopts shorter working hours in the summer, then you may find that this helps,鈥 Warstr枚m says, 鈥渂ut for the majority of people, working a full day in the heat can seriously slow productivity.鈥

2. It鈥檚 prime time for a daydream vacation. There鈥檚 no doubt that our minds can wander during the wintertime too, but the jetting-to-Fuji fantasies are a little more prominent during the peak of summer. 鈥淲hen we find ourselves stuck in an office while others are outside enjoying the sun, our thoughts are easily turned to thinking about the places we would rather be and the activities we would rather be doing,鈥 explains Warstr枚m. Since childhood, we鈥檝e been conditioned to associate summer with vacations and relaxation, so it鈥檚 understandable why that cubicle just isn鈥檛 cutting it.

3. Your workplace is quieter. Higher-ups 鈥 or peers who were just better about budgeting their paid time off 鈥 will often partake in trips during the summer, which can result in a mellower office than normal. 鈥淎lthough a quiet workplace may sound conducive to a more focused environment, in reality, it can have the opposite effect,鈥 Warstr枚m warns. Having fewer people around lowers accountability: 鈥淵ou may find that you have less pressure to stay on top of tasks and are therefore less culpable if your focus and productivity slip.鈥

How to Defeat Summer Distractions

A woman works sitting on a bench outside at a cafe

1. Take advantage of technology. Facebook gets a lot of flack for distracting us, but Warstr枚m says technology isn鈥檛 always the enemy when it comes to keeping concentrated. It鈥檚 likely you鈥檙e sitting in front of a computer screen most of the day, so make the most of its essentially limitless amenities. If to-do lists are a go-to for you, Warstr枚m offers the idea of finding a list-making app that will make you feel accomplished as you tick off each completed task; or if you鈥檙e daydreaming on the reg, try website-blocking tools to limit the number of potential distractions.

2. Switch up the scenery. When the view of that computer screen and the same white wall behind it gets stale, take your work elsewhere. 鈥淗aving a change of scenery can have a positive effect, as it is easy to become bored with the same work setting,鈥 encourages Warstr枚m. If you鈥檙e able, he suggests working from a cafe, a co-working space, or even your own home. For some added exercise, propose that your next meeting be held walking outside rather than sitting indoors. 鈥淣ot only is this great for your health, but getting outside and taking some air can help to regain focus.鈥 If getting out of the office isn鈥檛 an option, just tidying up your workspace can be enough of a reset to get you back on task.

3. Give yourself a break (or several). You鈥檙e yearning for a nonexistent summer break鈥 So make yourself one! 鈥淚f you feel you are becoming distracted, then try to work in small blocks of 40 or 60 minutes, with a short break in between,鈥 Warstr枚m recommends. 鈥淣o matter how busy you are, it is always important to take regular breaks, as this will help you keep focused.鈥 To achieve maximum productivity, set realistic goals during those periods of work: As Warstr枚m reminds us, unattainable goals only encourage us to lose focus. It all comes back to crossing things off our agendas one by one until we can go home and eat that long-awaited Popsicle.

How do you slay at work through the summer? Tweet us tips @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)