We’ve all heard the expression “dog days of summer.”  I associate the phrase with slowing down, summer heat, etc. And it’s no wonder! Studies show that work productivity in the summer drops by as much as 20%.  That’s a lot.

It isn’t that people go on vacation and thus produce less. It is that, on the job, their results lag.  As a nonprofit leader, you can’t afford to have that kind of drop in productivity at your nonprofit.

Here are three tips to help you and your nonprofit be more productive in these summer days.

  1. Take a vacation and encourage your staff to do the same.

I know this seems counter-intuitive but the reality is that, to be more productive, we need to renew our energy. Studies show that people who engage in energy renewal practices are more productive (in their results) than others working exactly the same amount of time but who don’t have those practices.

Action step:  By tomorrow, schedule your “get away” time in your calendar even if you don’t know where you’ll be going or how you will spend that time (other than working!).

2. Guard your focus. There are two things that vie for our attention: distractions and interruptions. We have a lot of opportunities to eliminate, reduce or at least manage these. The first step is to become aware of the distractions and interruptions that pull our focus away.

Action steps:  Track all of the distractions and interruptions that you can over the next week.  Then, decide which ones you are going to eliminate. For instance, you can turn off the automatic notifications on your phone and computer for email or texts arriving. Calendar three times (only!) during the day when you will check your email. Don’t take your phone into meetings with you.

  1. Re-evaluate when you start and stop. Consider giving yourself, and your staff, more flexibility in your work days. It can be renewing to have more time to yourself in the evenings with daylight savings time. Or you might decide to work longer during the week so you can take part or all of Friday off.

Action step:  Consider changing things up when it comes to when you arrive and when you leave work.

Summer heat slows me down. My energy wanes on a hot afternoon. At those times, I get up earlier to enjoy the cooler mornings and work during those hours. Then, in the afternoon, most of the time I have met my goals for the day and I can step away from my desk.

What’s 1 thing you’re doing this summer to make the dog days of summer more productive (and fun!)?