It’s hard when you’re alone in the office and every email you send gets an out-of-the-office-for-the-next-two-weeks message delightfully reminding you that you’re the only one who’s not on holiday.
Sure, working during the summer months when most of your colleagues are away can leave you feeling kind of miserable and unmotivated, but there are ways you can endure at work when everyone else is off at the beach. Or the mountains. Or globetrotting. Or just doing nothing! (Sniff.)
Here are five tried and true survival techniques:
- Declutter your workspace
Take advantage of having fewer people around during the summer holidays to sort out your workspace. Clutter is distracting. Being surrounded by a bunch of stuff not only slows you down, but it can also complicate your daily tasks. Get rid of those doodads that are gathering dust. Toss the piles of folders that are already obsolete. Harden your heart and slide last year’s birthday cards into a drawer. While you’re minimizing your physical clutter, take the time to ditch all the junk you never use that’s cluttering up your computer too.
- Stir your brain – and your body
You’re probably thinking “Oh em gee, could this be any more cliché?” But sitting at your desk all day with almost no one else in the office can murder your motivation. It’s important to have short breaks throughout the day to keep your enthusiasm going, so be kind to yourself. At lunchtime, make it a point to do something completely other than work: rediscover some of the joys life has to offer – outside of the office. Have a picnic lunch if the weather’s in your favor. Take a walk or go for a run; hit the gym if you can. If you can’t leave the office (maybe you’re the only one at the lighthouse?), watch some TED talks to stir your brain. And at the very least, try to stretch at least 10-20 minutes each day.
- Keep in touch with your colleagues
It might feel like you’re alone, but chances are good that you haven’t really been abandoned in the office this week. This is a good time to reconnect with colleagues who are also working and schedule a long lunch or make friends with colleagues who you’ve never had a chance to get to know before. You never know, they could help with any work you feel you have hit a wall with. And since everyone’s probably feeling more laid back, why not plan an after work get-together?
- Promise yourself little treats
Reward yourself with little goodies at certain times of the day or after finishing a particularly difficult job. For instance, after completing a difficult report, make yourself a coffee and zone out for 10 minutes. As long as you’re getting your work done, there’s no harm in allowing yourself some “me” time to stay driven and focused on the rest of your tasks.
- Don’t forget that your turn is coming!
Remember that even though everyone else took their vacation during the summer, you’re taking YOUR vacation in November, so spend a little time now composing various versions of “Sorry I can’t respond to your email right now but I’m on a winter cruise” email responses to make yourself feel just a little bit better.