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 — 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 Warström — CEO and co-founder of Mentimeter, an online platform to help keep participants engaged during presentations — 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’t 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. “If you work for a company that adopts shorter working hours in the summer, then you may find that this helps,” Warström says, “but for the majority of people, working a full day in the heat can seriously slow productivity.”

2. It’s prime time for a daydream vacation. There’s 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. “When 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,” explains Warström. Since childhood, we’ve been conditioned to associate summer with vacations and relaxation, so it’s understandable why that cubicle just isn’t cutting it.

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

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 Warström says technology isn’t always the enemy when it comes to keeping concentrated. It’s likely you’re 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, Warström 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’re 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. “Having a change of scenery can have a positive effect, as it is easy to become bored with the same work setting,” encourages Warström. If you’re 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. “Not only is this great for your health, but getting outside and taking some air can help to regain focus.” If getting out of the office isn’t 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’re yearning for a nonexistent summer break… So make yourself one! “If you feel you are becoming distracted, then try to work in small blocks of 40 or 60 minutes, with a short break in between,” Warström recommends. “No matter how busy you are, it is always important to take regular breaks, as this will help you keep focused.” To achieve maximum productivity, set realistic goals during those periods of work: As Warström 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)