Making The Most of The “Dog Days of Summer”

I love summer. I love the heat, the outdoor activities, and the BBQ’s. But I have to be honest, I didn’t really understand what the phrase “dog days of summer” meant. So after hearing someone use it recently I looked it up.

“The sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11. 2. A period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.”


It’s the last line that stands out to me. “A period marked by lethargy, inactivity and indolence (laziness).” Sounds like everyone just calls it a day, or should I say, calls it a month and gives up on being productive.

I came across some stats from the American Express Open Forum that support this summer phenomenon:

  • Productivity drops by 20%
  • Employee attendance drops by 19%
  • Projects take longer by 13%
  • Lunch hours increase by 2.6 times
  • Personal shopping during work hours increases by 200%
  • Searching for another job increases by 120%

Personal shopping increases 200%? Seriously?

These statistics have a lot of implications for us, in the workplace and in our homes. I suppose we can either accept that the summer is going to be a time of apathy or we can take steps to make the most of the season.

Here are a couple of suggestions to overcome the dog days of summer…

Go on vacation

Be intentional about taking breaks during the summer; whether it’s a week vacation or a long weekend, do it. You need it. Your employees need it, your family needs it. Have too much to do to take a break? Rest will actually increase your productivity. So even if you don’t want to rest, do it so you can accomplish more.

Darren Hardy says, that to increase your productivity, you need to rest. Of course, the value of rest and napping for productivity is everywhere today so that’s no surprise.

“Plan your play”.

Schedule activities that will help you rest, reset and revitalize. Being relatively new small business owners, we aren’t planning a 1-2 week vacation, but we are planning pool parties, long weekends and day trips that we know will refuel us and create special experiences and memories. Choose things that fit your schedule and your budget.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive to be meaningful.

Be Present

This can be difficult anytime of the year but especially helpful in the summer. If you are working…work. If you are playing…play. Just don’t try to do both at the same time. Be fully engaged at work and fully engaged at play. Here’s the thing…everyone around you will know if you are or not.

Your kids will see you on your laptop or smartphone when you should be watching them dive into the pool.

Your co-workers will see you taking extended breaks, on your computer or at the water cooler.

Your boss will get the project late and perhaps not your best effort.

The other day I went for a bike ride with my daughter Megan. When we left our house we headed toward the lake which is essentially downhill most of the way. The ride back is twice as hard because we’ve been riding for an hour and it’s uphill but gearing down makes it possible to navigate those uphill climbs.

I think for many of us, we vacation or play like that. We gear down, but we’re still riding…in this analogy, we’re still working. It may feel a little easier, but we’re still peddling. We’re not resting, we’re working. Many of us play like that.

Stop it. Be present. If you’re working…work. Show up on time and don’t leave early. Don’t cheat your boss. Work hard. Then when you’re playing…play. Don’t try to do both. Why? Because you can’t. You can’t rest and work at the same time…you may think you can multitask (another false assumption) but you can’t.  If you continue to do this, your work will sabotage your play and your play will sabotage your work.

In a previous post I talked about how this can happen; you can read more about it here.

I grew up watching the show, MASH. A medical unit during the Korean war (conflict) set in the 1950’s. Mostly it was a comedy but in this particular episode everyone was experiencing a measure of depression because it was Christmas and they were far from home, with no end to the war in sight. Even Father Mulcahy, the unit chaplain was discouraged, struggling to feel useful.

After listening to all the complaints from his senior staff, Col Potter, as he often did, shared his timely wisdom…

“If you ain’t where you are, you’re no place.”

If you’re suppose to be working, but you are taking extended breaks, surfing the net instead of calling the client, showing up late and leaving early? Stop. Work.

If you’re suppose to be playing, spending time with family and friends but your mind is preoccupied with business, or you’re attached to your smart phone and you’re ignoring everyone? Stop. Play.

The summer can be a great time of year. It’s my favorite time of year. But it can also be a time of laziness and unproductive activity. A simple strategy to overcome this is to intentionally do two things; work and play. And when you’re working…work. And when you’re playing…play.

Enjoy your summer and get the most out of it.


Do you feel stuck, professionally or personally? Are you looking to make some changes? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

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