The Paradox of Productivity Pacing: When ‘Sun & Fun’ Gets In the Way

It’s summertime and the calling of the cool breezes at the beach, with a Pina Colada (or two) in hand, is roaring at you. You worked your tail off the first half of the year, and the all-important 4th quarter is just around the corner, when you need to buckle down and squeeze out all the productivity and profits that you can, which will have a big say in how successful a calendar year you achieved at work, or in your business.

If you don’t enjoy the best, relaxing weather of the summer now – and pace yourself to recharge and reinvigorate for the rest of the year – you might be missing the boat, and pay for it by dragging to the finish line come November and December,right? Well…maybe not.

The trick to staying refreshed and sufficiently focused year-round is to catch your breath periodically throughout the year, rather than bunch it up for a big splash in the summer. Binging on anything – including the work-intense periods, followed by picking a big chunk of summertime for binge-leisure, may not be the most productive and fulfilling way to pace one’s self at work throughout the year.

The great leaders, innovators and artists throughout time had an uncanny ability to find the right pacing and balance between productive-work and leisure year-round. Their level of energy, and the bank of intense and creative working ability always seemed ready for tapping when called upon.These leaders recognized that leisure recharging, and even enjoyment immersion, wasn’t something to be left for just the summer months, when it’s probably easiest to let things slide and drift a bit, and then conveniently blame it on the sunny, blissful weather.

Picking your spots to enjoy maximum leisure and re-energizing should be an ongoing objective throughout the year. Leaving it for the summer leaves the door open for Spring-drag….getting to the summertime finish line in May and June a tad unfocused – the way many of us used to during our school years, when we were aching for the summer break. It’s a real risk that leaves the door open for errors, oversights and cutting corners at work in anticipation of the big summer wind-down.

Finally, there’s actually a ‘productivity paradox’ in play when it comes to taking it easy for the summer, or any period throughout the year, for that matter. When does one accomplish more? When things are slow, or when they’re perking up, and all is moving at a more frenetic pace?

I know for many, it’s a slam-dunk answer: they thrive at being productive and jumping ahead when there’s little interruption – so they forge ahead with their workload during early-morning, evening or weekend hours when they have to deal with less interfacing with others and can concentrate on yielding more quality and productive work. Later, they can exercise more routine pacing and cruise controls during the course of the day and work-week, and are better equipped to deal with life’s (and work’s) inevitable curve balls.

Which gets us back to the premise – maybe we should use the slower, less frenetic summer time to make greater strides to jump ahead instead of giving into the temptation of de-focusing — as part of a master plan and philosophy to be optimally charged and focused year-round. Maybe it’s best to use the summer time when others are de-intensifying to get more mileage out of pushing ahead, and out-pacing the field of colleagues and competitors. That’s what many winners do. After all, what takes one hour of focus and productivity during off hours can sometimes take 3-4 hours, or longer to achieve during peak hours.

The real trick is ‘Moderation’ and not overdoing the focus-out during the summer; spreading the reinvigorating and recharging respites during the year; and wisely using the slower, uninterrupted times during the day week, month or year to leap ahead, so that the crunch times are more tolerable, and one’s better prepared to innovate and problem-solve again, all in more evenly-paced Moderation.

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