How to stay motivated during the summer

​As I'm writing this blog post it's mid-afternoon on a Wednesday and the campus is pretty much a ghost town. Students have returned home for the summer, many of the academic staff have taken their summer leave and even the canteen in Cardiff School of Management is deserted due to the major refurbishment taking place.

Today is also the hottest day of the year so far and in fact the hottest July day in Britain since records began (so my news app tells me). The team are desperately trying to keep cool with an electric fan whilst we occasionally glance out of the window at the sun inviting us to come out and play. We can't 'go out and play' however as we are currently preparing for an audit from Welsh Government (who fund part of our activities) and busy planning activities and marketing materials for next academic year.

Fortunately for me I love my job and I never go to work with that dreaded feeling or wishing that I was somewhere else. Even so, when the sun is shining and Wimbledon is on – it can be hard for even the most enthusiastic and dedicated amongst us to keep our motivation. This got me thinking about entrepreneurs – particularly those that work from home or don't have a fixed place of work. It must be even harder to stay motivated in these situations.

I guess one of the main things that motivates entrepreneurs is the love for their business. I talked a lot in my last post about the importance of passion – if you love what you do it won't feel like work anyway. However, if the sunshine is begging you to come out and play and you're struggling to keep your motivation here are 5 tips on staying motivated during the summer:

 1. Keep your routine

We've all been there. You finish your exams and assignments and have three blissful months ahead of you to enjoy the summer with no deadlines to worry about and no early lectures to get up for. It can be easy to slip into the habit of having a cheeky lie-in now and again. Pretty soon those lie-ins start to become more frequent and before you know it you've wasted half of your day in bed!

If you're starting or running a business time is one of your most precious commodities and it's really important to maximise your time effectively. If you're not a morning person this doesn't mean getting up at the crack of dawn every day, it just means finding a routine that works for you and sticking with it.

Research has shown that some of the most successful people of all time have all kept to fairly strict routines. For example, Barack Obama reportedly starts his day with a workout at 6:45 a.m., reads several newspapers, has breakfast with his family, and then starts his work day just before 9:00 a.m.

Having a routine is really important in helping you to stay focussed on your business. Dedicate set amounts of time each day to completing specific tasks and try to be strict with yourself to make sure you stay on track. You'll get a great sense of fulfilment when you've used your time wisely and ticked lots of tasks off your to-do-list.

2. Enjoy the fresh outdoors

If the lure of the sunshine is too strong – get outside and enjoy it. Advances in technology have enhanced our ability to work on the go so take your Smartphone, laptop or tablet and work from your garden, the local park or even the beach (if you're lucky enough to live near one!). Studies show that working outside can boost your brain power, making you more productive, focused and creative – sounds like a great excuse to grab the shades and sun cream.

3. Give yourself a break

While routine is important it's essential to also make time for yourself. In fact you should build regular breaks into your routine. This is perhaps even more important in the summer months when the hot weather can be a bit stifling. Make sure you give yourself regular breaks where you completely escape from your business. Go for a walk, play sport, have lunch with a friend – anything that helps you feel relaxed and refreshed.

Working long hours without breaks may seem like a good idea when you have lots to get through but it's actually counter-productive. Giving yourself a break can give you the breathing space you need to approach a task or problem with a fresh pair of eyes and give you a boost in energy.

4. Work flexibly

OK, so this may sound a little contradictory after point 1 focused on keeping to a strict routine but it really is important to find a working pattern that works for you. One of the best things about working for yourself is that you can work when you want to – you don't have to fall into the '9 to 5 trap' if that doesn't suit you.

If you're not a morning person then there's no point in forcing yourself to start your day at 6:00am if you know you won't be productive. Maybe you prefer to use the daytime to make the most of the sunshine and work in the evenings – that's fine! Do whatever works for you but make sure you keep to roughly the same schedule every day as this will keep you on track.

5. Keep an eye on the bigger picture

While your friends may be enjoying their summer off and playing in the sun, in a few months or years' time you will be running your own successful business, while they may be stuck in a job they hate. Making some sacrifices for your business is going to be painful, but it will be worth it. No entrepreneur has ever been successful without missing out on the occasional social event or trip to the park.

Hopefully the above points will help you to stay motivated this s​ummer and put the necessary hours in to make your business a success. If on the flipside you're not struggling with motivation and actually need some help switching off from your business so that you can take a holiday this summer, take a look at this month's guest post 'How to take a holiday without abandoning the business.' by Matt Perkins, Head of SME Engagement at FreeAgent​.

Blog post by Lauren Davies, Entrepreneurship Coordinator.
July 2015