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Let's Do Less

5 Ideas to Shift Focus From Productivity to Quality of Life This Summer

By Ashley Geist Cusick

If you are looking for a quick read about getting more done this summer, this isn’t your article.  However, if you are ready to slow down & savor the sunshine and snow cones, you’ve come to the right place! 

Living in a place where our days without coats are limited, it always feels like the season of sun and iced beverages is short-lived.  While we can’t actually slow time down (trust me, I’ve tried), what we can do is to intentionally decide where to invest our time, making sun-shiny memories and catching up on some reading and sleep along the way.


Do Less Tip #1 – Clear Your Schedule Where You Can

Focus on the areas (no matter how small), where you can exercise some control over your calendar.  Look for 30 minutes in the mornings, Sunday afternoons, Thursday evenings at 7:00, or ANY block of time that you can re-claim.  Finding an extra 30, 60, or 90 minutes (or more), might not sound like a big deal, but it is.  Imagine yourself snoozing in your hammock for 20 minutes, spending an hour a week reading, or even hiding in the bathroom from your family for a few extra minutes while eating the last ice cream bar by yourself, in peace.  It all matters!    


Do Less Tip # 2 – Wait 24 hours before you RSVP Yes or No

The summertime season brings with it some fun and sometimes extra invitations to gather with friends and family.  Instead of jumping straight to your customary, “Yes!” or “No!” response, give all invitations a 24-waiting period to tune into how you feel about the invitation.  If you are a serial over-committer, the wait will slow you down and will allow you to ask, “Do I actually want to do this thing?”  If you tend to say no too quickly, the wait will allow you to tune into the spirit of the invitation and might allow you to say a heart-felt “Yes!” to something really fun and meaningful. 


Do Less Tip #3 – Change Up Your Scene & Routine

If you are anything like me during downtime, you get used to making a nest on the couch with a cardigan, a blanket, and at least three pillows at a time, and something to eat and to watch.  While beautiful habits like this are hard to break, (for good reasons), now is the time to switch up our morning, afternoon/after work, and nighttime routines.  Would you love to go for an evening or early morning walk?  How about trying a hobby or attending an outdoor concert or sporting event or eating your leftovers outside, picnic style on your lunch break?  Choose one time of day to try something different this week and see how it affects your mood. 


Do Less Tip #4 – Practice Slow Hobbies

Engaging in hobbies and activities that require our time, effort, and concentration are actually good for our brains!  Cooking a new recipe, trying a new workout, walking a route that is different, or trying a new craft are all wonderful ways to shift our perspective of time and give our brain some much-needed novelty.  Try adding on to something you already do.  For example, if you love to cook, try growing your own herbs and making salad dressing at home.  Will this take some time and research?  Yes.  Will it also be delicious?  Hopefully, but no matter how it tastes, the experiment will bring mental well-being along with it, so it’s a win either way! 


Do Less Tip #5 – Make Time for What Matters

It’s OK to be choosy about how and where you spend your time, effort, and let’s face it, life-force energy.  Now is the time to sit down with your journal and ask yourself, who and what matters most to me in this current season?  Complete this sentence, “If I didn’t take time to______________(fill in the blank) this summer, I’d be sad.”  This blank might be filled with visiting a loved one, staying up late to roast marshmallows, spending a day at your favorite pool, there’s no right or wrong, and only you know the answer.  Take some time to create your own non-negotiable summer fun list, and schedule these moments into your summer to make sure they happen.


Looking for more great mental health inspo?  Follow The Support Circle on Instagram and Facebook for daily moments of joy, and watch for new episodes of our monthly podcast, Counselors & Coffee, coming soon to our website and Spotify. 

Looking for more ways to beat the summer blues?  Our licensed counselors are now seeing clients in Aberdeen, SD, Mobridge, SD, and via telehealth across the states of South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota.  Call 605-845-2058 or email us at to get started on your mental health journey with us, today!

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