Summer is a time for fun, friends, family, and plenty of reasons to take Friday off for a long weekend at the beach.
However, summer is also a time for goals, early morning grind sessions, late-night marathons, reading, and full Saturdays spent in a coffee shop working on that startup idea you’ve finally decided to tackle.
The truth is, most people squander their summers. They see summer as a time to escape how they feel about their boring 9 to 5 job. And sure, the weather may be prime for a much-needed pool day, that doesn’t mean every moment outside of “work hours” should be spent relaxing.
In fact, if you want to turn that side hustle of yours into something successful this summer, these 5 habits will make or break you:
1. Saying “No” more than you say “Yes” to social invitations.
This is bar none the hardest habit for people to master.
When it comes to setting your own goals and achieving them, you have to learn the difference between “a much needed break” and an over-active social life. Trust me, there will always be something going on: a concert, a street festival, a party, a gathering of friends at a cool new bar. The question you need to ask yourself is which of those invitations is truly worth your time.
On some occasions, yes, absolutely, go. But if you’re struggling to make progress on your goals, then you need to reevaluate how often you say “Yes.”
That startup isn’t going to build itself.
2. Blocking off hours for you to work without distraction.
It astounds me how many people think they can get anything meaningful done while their phone is constantly buzzing and blinking and dinging.
Work is not the same as “deep work.” Deep work is where hours float by without you realizing it. This is where the good stuff happens, the golden material, and unfortunately it rarely happens when you’re trying to do eleven things at once.
This summer, do not think that you’re going to enter a “deep work” state while you’re sitting at your friend’s pool. You might get an email or two sent, but you won’t make any real progress.
Which means, yes, you’re going to have to say “No” to a few pool sessions, sit yourself in your apartment, turn off your phone, and get to work — for hours at a time — if you want to make a dent in your project.
3. Waking up early instead of sleeping in.
I’m from Chicago, which means the sun doesn’t come up until 7:30 a.m. during the winter. But during the summer, the sun is up by 5:30 a.m., sometimes earlier.
Summer is the best excuse to wake up early and tackle the day head on. It can be grueling to drag yourself out of bed at that early hour, especially when your body isn’t used to it, but once you’re up, you’re up. And those first few hours (while everyone else is asleep) will prove to be your most productive hours of the day.
If you’re sleeping in this summer, don’t be surprised when your early-riser friends start making strides.
You snooze, you lose.
4. Spending too much time with the wrong people.
Since everyone feels compelled to be extra social during the summer, it can be easy to waste time around the wrong people.
Like I said, every once in a while it can be great to give in to spontaneity and say “Yes” to invitations that come your way. But if you aren’t careful, you’ll notice that the other people who join in are in no way helpful to your chief aim in life. Say “Yes” too often, and you’ll wind up just like them.
Time management is a very objective thing. You’re either working toward your goals, or you’re not. And while there is a time and a place for relaxation, fun, enjoyment, etc., it’s crucial that you pay attention to the people who you’re giving your time to. If they aren’t driven by any goal or pursuit themselves, then over time, you won’t be either.
Protect your time, and do that by being intentional about who you give your time to.
5. Falling into the vicious cycle of media entertainment.
You know what’s crazy to me?
Are all the people who talk so much about how they want to find a better job, travel the world, make tons of money, “do something they love,” meanwhile rant and rave about the new Netflix series they just devoured in a matter of days.
That’s a vicious cycle.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that encourages this kind of behavior. We raise our eyebrows in amazement when we hear that someone hasn’t watched that new show, hasn’t seen that meme, doesn’t follow that YouTube channel. Media in our culture gives us talking points and things to bond over. It also distracts us from what really matters.
Is watching an episode of your favorite show before bed a terrible thing? Not at all. But just remember: you are a reflection of how you invest your time. And the more hours you rack up in front of entertainment media, the less time you will have invested in the things you say mean most to you.
Media is meant to be a snack, not an entire diet.