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Method For: Less Busy, More Productive

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While I have always loved summer, I used to dread its arrival each year because it meant that everyone in my family was footloose and fancy-free for 3 months.  My husband is a teacher and so enjoyed the same schedule as our 3 kids and together they would all countdown the days in June until school was out. This is where my resentment kicked in, as I most certainly did not have the summer off. Certainly there are some perks to summer; long, sunny days, a change in schedule and hopefully a vacation tucked in somewhere. But mostly summer was just a  different kind of busy as I found myself flying around to different activities, figuring out what we were going to eat for dinner and making sure the kids were where they needed to be each day. Summer didn’t bring any relief to my schedule, it just made me more resentful of the busy!

So how to be less ‘busy’ this summer so you can enjoy some of the delights it has to offer? I used these 4 tricks to dial back the busy and dial up the productivity, which helped make space for the summertime things that mattered to me!


Don’t roll your eyes, this is the most important trick! Take 10 minutes and make a list of everything you have to do, then take another 10 minutes and put it in order of priority. The things down at the bottom of the list are up for review; can they be eliminated? delegated? combined with something else? In the summertime at my house cooking dinner (and all of its adjacent activities) was deprioritized for me; we got take out more often or Jay took over the cooking. Carpools to and from different camps were another tool to use so I had less time in the car and could meet up with the fam for a cookout at our swim club. There are so many ways to make more summer time for yourself – but first you have to prioritize!

Finish Lines & Rewards

One downside of the summertime vibe is that it’s somehow harder to concentrate and focus (as any teacher trying to finish a school year will tell you!) For us grownups that means everything we have to do takes longer. The second summertime trick I employ to boost my productivity is to create a Finish Line and Reward for everything important that I don’t want to do but have to. (I prefer the term Finish Line to Deadline, sounds more athletic and less menacing.) Assign a finish line to something that requires focus and then pick the reward that you will give yourself when you cross the finish.  For me this tactic was most helpful at work. I had 2 go-to summertime rewards; one was an iced latte for my ride home and the other was leaving early. The summer nights are long in Seattle and getting home an extra 15 or 30 minutes early almost felt like I had a day off ahead of me. One note, the reward needs to be good – something you will really appreciate – and you can only give yourself the reward if you cross the finish!


Ugh, saying no sucks but it is easier to do when you have done the work of prioritizing. Summertime deserves its own special boundaries because the kids are off and there is more opportunity for quality time together. Summertime is also the season when we expose more of our bodies and thus there may be some priorities like pedicures that need to take precedence over something else. If your priorities are clear it is easier to communicate and stick to your boundaries. At the end of the day you want to have both time and energy for the things that matter most, boundaries will help to stay productive without adding more busyness to your plate.

It’s hard to avoid being busy, but at certain times of the year like summer it really pays to dial back the busy factor by increasing your productivity. Effectively prioritizing, setting up a finish line/reward system and introducing some boundaries will put you on your way to a stress-free, satisfying summer!

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