Making the Most of Summer – Balancing Work and Play
By Nicole Goldman of Yeah, That’s My Point
Summer has finally arrived in our northeast beach community after a long, cold, wet spring. Torrential downpours and 50° days were the norm until just a week or so ago, so deep into June many of us believed the hot weather would never come and the ‘summer’ people might stay home. No such luck. With the warm weather, the crowds are building and with it our social circle widens, social activities abound and time takes on a new energy.
No matter where you live, there is a quality to summer that lightens one’s mood. Perhaps it’s the longer days, the more casual attire or the transition to outdoor activities. Whether you are retired, employed or straddling the two, the tempo of life shifts. Dinner is eaten later, lunch can be enjoyed outside. Your home expands beyond its four walls to include gardens, decks and patios.
With these seasonal changes come new challenges between work and play. My writing projects are still underway for instance, and my community projects are just beginning to heat up (no pun intended); there’s my novel to re-edit, a new idea to flesh out for the next one, assignments from other blogs, and so much organization for upcoming events that I could spend from morning til night with my head in the computer and a phone cradled under my chin. But that’s not where I want to be when the sun shines. I want to be outdoors, at the beach, on a boat, playing tennis, riding my bike, and yes, even enjoying the summer people.
We wait all year for summer to return, but this year I feel primed to handle the balancing act between letting time idle away in the summer heat, and using the cooler morning hours to make some headway on passion projects. I kind of think of it as a bait and reward system. I know that if I let the summer pass without getting any work done, I’ll regret the idle days come September. But if I don’t enjoy all the great activities available to me in the warm weather, I’ll be grumpy and resentful when it starts cooling off.
As I often do, I rely on a personal scheduling structure that keeps me sane and tension-free. It’s much like the schedule I use when doing long-term travel. One part are the rules left over from childhood that you have to finish your homework before you can play outside, and another part is an ingrained need to accomplish things. Either way, creating a schedule in the summer or any season, helps to balance the competing enticements.
Though I take two mornings a week off to play tennis with my summer friends, most days between 10am and 1pm you can find me at my desk or at meetings addressing my most pressing issues or assignments. If I focus my time early in the day, I find it more relaxing in the afternoons, guilt-free and definitely email-free. And thank goodness for mobile phones. Though my callers might hear the wind whipping around me if I take a call while reading on the beach in the afternoon, they have still found me, and our work might progress to the next step regardless of my physical location. Do they really need to know where I am? I never tell.
It’s really a question of compartmentalizing and working to prevent responsibilities from overflowing into recreation time, though there is no shame in riding your bicycle to do work-related errands on a gorgeous day. Exercise and a practical use of time in one go. That’s efficiency and balance at its very best.