Set your summer hours

After Memorial Day, a number of businesses switch to “summer hours.” Generally these are shorter (ending at 1 p.m. Friday is common) — an acknowledgement that for many people the opportunity cost of non-work hours is just higher when it’s light and nice into the evening. People want to be out going to parks, restaurants, or concerts on weekday evenings, or traveling to the beach on Friday afternoons. As a business you can have unhappy people who are watching the clock and sneaking out as soon as they can…or you can appear magnanimous by giving a benefit and getting the exact same amount of work out of people.

I have never actually worked somewhere with summer hours, so this is theoretical to me. But even as a self-employed sort, I find that summer hours tend to look a little different. This is neither good nor bad, but it’s worth being mindful about, and adjusting work expectations, and life ambitions accordingly.

One reason summer hours look different is just practical. For many people, the normal childcare routines of the school year change in summer. My kids tend to go to day camps, and we often need more than one driver to do any day’s camp run. So rather than starting work at 8, some days it’s going to be more like 9:15 (albeit with some work prior to 8:45 or so). Kids also need to be picked up, which means stopping work around 3 p.m. some days and then doing another hour or so after — doable, but it’s not always the most focused hour.

There’s also the reality that many of us take more days off. I know I do. If I actually manage to pull off five Mommy Days this summer that will be five days of working less than I might. We have four weeks away from the house this summer, and with two other short trips for me, I’m looking at five weeks outside the normal routine. I’ll work for some of that (during the weeks at the beach I will definitely be working a few hours most days) but it won’t be the same as a full work week in my office.

All this means I need to do a few things.

First, I plan to get ahead on the have-to-do stuff while I still am at my desk (Before Breakfast episodes come to mind — I’m about 2-3 weeks ahead, but if I get 4 weeks ahead that’s just more buffer).

Second, I need to adjust any other expectations accordingly. I am very efficient, but there’s only so much that fits in 25 hours a week vs. 35-40.

And then I also need to think how I want to spend the non-working time. We’re doing a lot of family adventures, of course, and I’ve also been spending a lot of TOAD time with the little kids (Time Outside After Dinner, or possibly Together Outside After Dinner time). I taught them about honeysuckle and now they’ve been attacking the vines to get the nectar out of those blossoms. I’m hoping to do some evening runs with my 16-year-old. Regardless, it’s worth pondering, because even when it’s not easy to work, it’s still easy to waste that time on stuff that isn’t particularly enjoyable or memorable. If I’m working less it should be because I want to do more cool stuff, not just because it’s logistically challenging.

Do you set summer hours? I’m thinking it might be helpful for me to more formally map out my intended work time so I have a better sense of what can happen over the summer and what can’t…

In other news: We’re getting formal portraits taken of the 3-year-old this weekend. He got a big bug bite on his face last week that I hoped would clear up but unfortunately he keeps rubbing it so it has not gone away. Maybe some retouching will be happening…

We’re likely going to an air show in Reading this weekend. It tends to line up with my husband’s birthday, and he enjoys going, so that will be our family outing. I’m also giving him tickets to a concert in a few weeks — this is really the summer of live music for me!



9 thoughts on “Set your summer hours

  1. My office closes completely on Fridays in July and August. We are a private doctors office and can make the decision that not enough people want to come on Fridays to make it worthwhile. While I don’t see patients on Fridays at anytime of year (it is one of my admin days) there are no new requests coming in (except emergencies when I am on call) which allows me to catch up on Fridays in very little time. This leaves the rest of the day wide open. I take a solo day out of town, we do some extra weekend travel, we go to the pool. I really enjoy it!

  2. During the school year, we have early release on Fridays so my Fridays tend to be quite chill anyways. I volunteered at the school uniform sale today then we cycled home and I worked from the couch while T played/had his rest/had telly). We debated aftercare on Fridays for next year but I think he needs the chill time at home, and I need the option for time with him, especially if I’ve been travelling most of the week. Some days we end up bringing a friend home, which means more work time for me since they play quite happily.

    1. @Coree- I hear you on the playdate. Unless they decide to cause trouble together… (this has happened over here before…)

  3. How weird to read that you are going to Reading this weekend. That’s where I grew up, Reading England that is! My parents met at Reading University in the 1950s and my dad worked in the Chemistry Department all his career. I believe there are a dozen Readings around the world at least!

  4. My employer does not have ‘summer hours’ that I know of. People still schedule meetings on Fridays to which everyone I’ve talked to is annoyed. I’m trying not to schedule meetings on Fridays to support this cause! Friday meetings also don’t tend to be the most productive in my opinion, people tend to be checked out. Super interesting topic though. I feel like with remote work, there are many people doing summer Fridays without it being ‘policy’. My stance is if you are getting your work done, it shouldn’t matter where or when you work, for the most part!

  5. Until I made a job move this spring (lateral… can’t wait to listen to latest podcast!) my peak season was summer which was incredibly stressful with kids.

    On daycamps… this summer feels like we’ve entered a new day camp phase. I have a 7 year old. In past years she’s been satisfied with all-summer all-day Y day camp which is basically daycare with field trips and park outings. This year she seems bored and wanting more down time at home. I’m not quite sure how to manage that. I’ve also never been able to figure out how to manage the shorter one-week day camps… around here those tend to be 10-2 or 9-12.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *