Heat, Productivity and Perseverance

It's summer and it's hot. I can't actually remember a summer hotter than this and I don't live in the South. Here in New Jersey, we've had two straight weeks of 90+ degree weather.

It's almost sad but a day below 90 now feels like Fall and the entire family gets a little lift. The kids feel happier and Cary and I get a boost of energy and get outside for a bike or just to walk around our neighborhood.

How does heat affect you in the summer?

According to the Center for Disease Control, high temps can bring on what's called "heat stress". Heat stress brings on such real effects and (I'll spare you the details) basically makes you less productive.

According to the Mayo Clinic, high temperatures make your body work harder to cool itself down. The more heat, the harder the body has to work and that spells a decline in productivity.

But does it have to kill your entire summer when it comes to work?

Jessica Stillman from INC Magazine argues that summer doesn't have to be a death knell for your output. While you'll feel more relaxed in the summer (and that's ok), you can still get things done by taking a vacation and by enjoying the outdoors for brief spots during the day.

One thing I like to do at work is take a walk around campus right after lunch. It helps my sandwich digest, gets me more steps in my Samsung Galaxy s4's S Health app and generally makes me happy. 

You can do that too.

All of us, from President Obama down to the person who lives next door, have a need for time off in the Summer. Besides a full-blown vacation, you can also do any of the following small things:

1. Avoid sitting even more than usual. Since it's hotter in the summer, you'll tend to stick to your desk and chair. Stand up more often and if possible, buy or build a standing desk.

2. Take Fridays off. Most workplaces allow for "casual Fridays" but why not use some of your vacation days and just take four Fridays off in a row. It might have a better effect than taking a full week. Better still, it's cheaper than taking a vacation.

3. Rekindle your joy of reading. Be honest with yourself- when was the last time you got through an entire book? A magazine? A blog post online? Why not start and end your summer days with added (and for pleasure) reading?  (btw, a parent of a student of mine just lent me a book via Kindle- how cool is that?)

4. Give yourself permission to be less than awesome.  It's natural that the heat slows us down.  Don't beat yourself up over this.  This isn't a permission slip to slack off but is a bit of spiritual wisdom that will help as Summer rolls on.

These three, simple changes in your Summer can have a big impact on your productivity. Just because it's hot doesn't mean that your work has to suffer.

Why not try one of them this week?

*photo courtesy of FDP