How to Stay Focused and Productive at Work When Everyone Else is at the Beach – The Barcelona Summer Work Challenge

Even though we’re well into the second half of August, summer in Barcelona is far from over. The hot and sunny days will stretch well into September, and many of us are wondering: how are we supposed to stay focused and motivated at work in a city that’s constantly full of tourists enjoying their holidays? How do we “normalize” summer and stick to our daily habits without feeling like we’re missing out on something? Whether you’re back from your vacation or haven’t taken time off yet, there are ways to make sure you don’t waste what’s left of summer dreaming of places other than work. We dare you to do at least one of these things every day, and see how your end-of-summer experience changes from last year’s! Do you accept the challenge?

Ways to Stay Focused and Productive at Work When Everyone Else is at the Beach

[First of all, don’t read this article while you’re at work. Seriously. Stop procrastinating!

Or, if you are reading it, make sure it’s in a break when it’s not distracting you from something else that you should be doing (i.e. the stuff that you get paid for). More on procrastination below.]

Change up your working environment.

If you’re lucky enough to be working in a startup-y environment, or you have a chill boss, you should take advantage of the opportunities that flexibility has to offer. Your days will seem much less dull if, instead of condemning yourself to sitting at the same desk in the same chair and looking at the same sullen-faced coworker all day every day, you change up your working environment now and again. Go work at a co-working space for a day, or schedule a lunch meeting outside the office and have a ‘menu del dia’ at one of Barcelona’s many superb restaurants. Dream big and get out of the city for a few days: work remotely from the Balearic islands, so you can soak up the sun during your lunch break, and go partying at night. Snap a photo of your makeshift desk, check in to wherever you are and hashtag your photo #perksofthejob. Or whatever feels right to you.

Start working earlier and get off earlier.

Yes, it will be tough to get out of bed in the morning, but you’ll thank yourself later. Just imagine how much more you can do with your day if you’re done with work by 4 instead of 6pm. It’s also likely that you’ll get more work done in the same amount of time: unless your co-workers are following the same advice, you’ll probably be alone in the office for the first one to two hours of the day. There’s nothing better for productivity than an empty office in the morning. Most companies in Spain have summer schedules that let you off early on Fridays anyway: take advantage of these short days and don’t use tiredness as an excuse not to do an activity or go to the beach!

Use the slow summer days to catch up on non-priority work.

Remember all those tasks you shoved aside, saying that they weren’t important enough for you to deal with right before a deadline? They’ve piled up quite nicely since the beginning of the year, haven’t they? Since you simply can’t move forward with a lot of projects in the summer when half the team is away on vacation, take this time to catch up on all the work you’ve been putting off, but will have to complete eventually.

How to Stay Focused and Productive When Everyone Else Is at the Beach - the Barcelona Summer Work Challenge
Photo Credit: Anton Watman / Shutterstock, Inc.

Set new goals and put together an action plan for the next four-six months.

If you’re working in a high-speed environment, you’re probably living for the here and now and don’t have time to think about the future. Take the summer lull and turn it into the epitome of productivity by planning ahead. Your future self will thank your reasonably tanned, bored summer self for setting goals and foreshadowing a trajectory for your project. You can do this on your own and create personal goals, or involve teammates and go for planning on a collective level.

Turn off all distractions.

You know that little window that pops up when you download an app to your phone, asking whether you want to receive notifications from said app? Well, that’s when we’re going to need you to be strong and tap ‘No’. We don’t even realize just how much our constantly beeping mobile phones distract us – let’s not let a tiny screen that lights up every five minutes sabotage our productivity. Especially not a hot summer day, when we’re twice as easily distracted. No Facebook, no Twitter, and especially no seventeen-minute-long Youtube videos. The only exceptions are designated, consciously planned breaks!

Do HIIT – high intensity interval training – at work.

No, we do not mean that you should jump around in the office and make a complete fool of yourself trying to get a quick workout in (although exercise is certainly a great way to stay healthy and destress after office hours). We’re suggesting that you apply the principles of the popular training method to the way you work. Try working in intensive twenty to twenty-five-minute intervals or sprints: really give it your all and hammer out all the work you possibly can in a brief surge of energy. Then, take a short, 5-minute break and do whatever you feel like doing. Once the five minutes are up, start working again with maximum effort for another twenty-five minutes. The reason we recommend this is because frequent, short breaks are said to improve your performance, and can result in much more efficient work than being half-focused all day and dragging out a task that shouldn’t take more than an hour to complete. However, if you find yourself having a hard time getting back to work after resting, this method may not be for you.

Make the most of your time off.

Like you may have seen in our post about 5 Startups That’ll Help You Make the Best of Your Summer in Barcelona and our guide 11 Tips on How to Survive Summer in Barcelona, there’s plenty to do in and around this city even if you have to work during the week. Use your summer weekends to try sports you’ve never done before, drive to one of the neighboring towns or visit the picturesque villages of the Costa Brava. Also, we made a list of 7 Fun Things You Had No Idea You Could Do in Barcelona. What better time to give them a try than now?

Appreciate that AC.

AC appreciation should be a thing. Like, when you give thanks for your daily bread, you should also express your gratefulness for the cool air that is being magically blown out of that white plastic box on the wall. Even though this summer has been surprisingly mild in Barcelona, with the temperature hovering around 28 degrees on most days, it does get really stuffy and hot outside because of the humidity. So, enjoy the little things like your air-conditioned office and revel in the cool air that you’re not the one paying for.

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