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Summer Brain Drain: Does Nice Weather Mean Lower Productivity?


The best thing about the weather is that no matter what’s going on outside, you can probably use it as an excuse for not being able to get stuff done.

business beach 

(Photo Credit: kwimsnr/Flickr)

A recent StarTribune article focuses on a phenomenon called “summer brain drain,” a sort of reverse seasonal affective disorder that tanks our productivity at home and in the office.

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“If you’re lucky enough to have an office window,” productivity engineer Diane Amundson tells the paper, “you need to not look out it.”

But sunshine might not be entirely to blame. Amundson mentions that the distraction of having kids at home and trying to get stuff done while everyone in the world is on vacation (or you yourself are just about to go on one) are also contributing factors.

Then there’s the fact that some businesses are just plain slower in summer.

“In the uncertain economic climate, many people have put off their vacations until the slower summer months — or if they are parents, when their kids are home,” Lynn Taylor, author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant” tells Forbes. The pressure cooker environment takes a slight pause in the summer.”

Either way, there are a few things you can do to make the most out of the slower months, including:

1. Accept it.

Maybe it’s that uncertain economic climate from above, but professionals often feel that they should be go-go-go all the time. The only trouble with that is that you can only work flat out for so long, before you burn out. Use the slower time as an excuse to take a rest.

2. Take a vacation of your own.

Vacations actually improve worker productivity, not to mention the fact that they’ll keep you from feeling like Cinderella getting her stepsisters ready for the ball, while your coworkers traipse off to parts unknown.

3. Communicate.

Let your coworkers know, far in advance, where you’ll be and whether or not you’ll be available by phone or by email. (And try not to be. It’s not really a vacation if you’re still working.)

Try to keep track of where everyone will be and when, so that you can work around vacation schedules as much as possible, but be flexible. No matter how well-organized you are, summer is a rough time for getting answers. Face the fact that you might have to wait longer for information than you would in February.

Tell Us What You Think

Are you less productive in the summer? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

More from PayScale

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Do You Really Want Summer Fridays? Pros and Cons

How a Summer Vacation Can Be a Boon for Your Career

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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