3 ways to stay focused at work when all you want to do is enjoy summer weather

Warmer, sunshine-filled days are upon us. Soon enough, the harsh, bitter cold of winter will be a distant memory.

On an early Friday afternoon, and you’ll be counting down the seconds before you can head home and finally kick off that weekend beach getaway you’ve been looking forward to. Here are ways to stay on-task at work when all you want to do is leave your building and soak up some sun.

1. Practice ‘if-then planning’ so you don’t want to run away from work

It’s helpful to make sure you’re not trying to escape your work; if you are, it may indicate you’re overwhelmed or working too long without breaks, and it’s time to approach it differently.

Instead of just trying to “make” yourself get work done, Heidi Grant recommended adopting “if-then planning” in a 2014 Harvard Business Review article: choose when and where you will do something, and stick to it.

Grant uses this example in the article: “If it is 2pm, then I will stop what I’m doing and start work on the report Bob asked for.

She suggests that we don’t have to spend so much time deciding what to do— we’ve already decided what to do in advance.

“If-then plans dramatically reduce the demands placed on your willpower, by ensuring that you’ve made the right decision way ahead of the critical moment. In fact, if-then planning has been shown in over 200 studies to increase rates of goal attainment and productivity by 200%-300% on average,” Grant wrote.

No more wasting time trying to make a decision, which means you can work efficiently without wanting to run away.

2. Yes, it’s almost summer — just don’t forget the office dress code

Dressing for the summer weather and the indoor freeze is a nearly impossible balancing act in warmer months — but it’s absolutely necessary to stay decent.

Your outfit can reflect the fact that it’s warm, but remember that your clothes create your mindset. If you’re going to work, dress like you’re going to work, no matter how warm it is. You want to be taken seriously in the office so your work gets the respect it deserves— especially on a casual Friday. While it can be tempting to pull on a shorter dress or shorts in the morning, just make sure you don’t stray outside of your company’s dress code.

If you’ve got an interview coming up in the summer, consider checking out this Ladders article about dressing for one during that time of the year.

Your outfit can still scream summer without crossing the line.

3. Give in and go outside on scheduled breaks

If you keep resisting the sunlight and fresh air, you will become worse at your job. Willpower is a limited resource. Testing your willpower for 8 hours a day for four months during the summer will be a huge drain on your cognitive abilities and will reduce your willpower for other tasks, according to the American Psychological Association.

The solution: give in. Make going outside part of your workday. Schedule 30 minutes outside, suggest having meetings outdoors, and make sure you aren’t breathing office air nonstop.

During summer workdays, you’ll want to avoid as many instances of your mind wandering as possible— it’s way too easy to get caught up in the inviting sounds of the outside world every time the door opens. But your workday doesn’t have to be torture.