Summertime: Endless sunshine, popsicles, bike adventures… nothing to do but soak in the warmth and frolic about outside with your best friends.
Oh wait, we’re not in middle school anymore. Does it feel to you like summertime just sort of blends into the rest of the year, with July feeling quite a bit like March or November, but perhaps a little more wistful? There can be a sense of missing out that can take hold as you sit in your office space—or take on your regular list of daily to-do’s—as though work and your commitments and your list haven’t noticed it’s beautiful outside and that really, you should be out there frolicking. Or drinking on a patio. Or swimming in an outdoor triathlon. Or taking rooftop yoga.
While the realities of being a busy, working adult may make the endless, bright, active days of middle school summers a little more challenging, it’s not impossible to find a sense of balance— and avoid FOMO—during this incredible time of year.
We checked in with some of the busiest people we know: female CEOs who lead not only their businesses but their packed personal and family lives with a fierceness that is hard to match. How do they keep balanced and fit in some summertime enjoyment, despite their endless travel and to-do’s?
Take a page out of the books of these inspiring executives to have your most fulfilling and productive summer yet.
Katy Sherratt, Back on My Feet
“As the CEO of a nonprofit, I often wear many hats and must manage a variety of both expected and unforeseen responsibilities on a daily basis, while continuing to move our mission forward. At Back on My Feet, we combat homelessness through the power of running, community support and by providing essential employment and housing resources. This isn’t a job to us; this is a passion and a purpose, so it never really stops. When it comes to work/life balance, I’ve found that rather than defining balance as a percentage of time allocated between work and personal life, I define it as the right combination of things I need to succeed both as a leader and in my personal life.
“Back on My Feet is a national organization, and we have staff spread across the country. We do have a lot of events throughout the year and many weekend summer races, so my time can get pulled in many directions. However, we offer flexibility to our staff to work remotely. We focus on the outcomes and results rather than face time. I try to take advantage of the ability to telecommute by sometimes taking a conference call outside on a nice day or taking 30 minutes out between calls to walk the dogs in the park. A little bit of sunshine and time out can really clear your head and make your more focused and productive when you return to your desk.
“I am all about ruthless prioritization to deliver strong results and impact. It’s not about how many hours you spend working. It’s what you can deliver in the hours you are working that matters. When you’re efficient in this way, it means that when you’re on vacation, you’re on vacation. Finding time to unplug is necessary to avoid burnout.”
Pro tip: “I try to take advantage of the extra daylight hours in the summer. Running with Back on My Feet gives me the perfect outlet to get my workout in early in the morning and to free up my evenings for personal events. Plus, early morning is the perfect time to work out without the heat!”
Rachael McCrary, Jewel Toned
“I prefer the word ‘alignment’ instead of balance when it comes to work vs. life. The world is so connected these days; it’s easy to always be working. The fashion industry is at its busiest in summer, so to find a bit of respite from its demands, we try to crank out as much as we can Monday to Thursday so we can leave early on Fridays during the summer. (What’s best for your life and your body might not fall into a 9-to-5 schedule.) I make time to travel to Costa Rica, my happy place. It’s only a one-hour time difference from LA, so I can take my laptop to the pool to get work done if I need to, but I can also get in some zip lining and time in the water.”
Pro tip: “Immerse yourself in nature whenever you can to cleanse your body and your mind.”
Tara Gentile, CoCommercial
“I strive for work/life integration, rather than balance. My business brings about opportunities to explore things I wouldn’t be able to otherwise, and my life provides opportunities to better understand and lead my business. My goal is to maximize the opportunities in each aspect of my life. Summer tends to be a time when those opportunities are glaringly obvious: I’m leading a retreat at Glacier National Park, visiting the Redwoods after a workshop in San Francisco, and traveling to Alaska, thanks to travel points I racked up using business expenses. I spend much less time on the phone or in the office during the summer and take advantage of this time to be with my family and tackle more creative projects. I use my time on airplanes to get work done so I can play more when I’m on the ground.
“Summer for the company is a bit of gestation period: busy, with lots happening, but they’re things we won’t really see out in the open until months later. We can be more flexible and do some of our planning for the fall. I can choose when I’m going to hustle and when I’m going to rest, and I can give my team and my customers the same opportunity.”
Pro tip: “Embrace the spirit of summertime: fun, adventure, relaxation. Do what you can to incorporate that summer attitude into your schedule, commitments and projects and you’ll feel a greater sense of balance—even if you’re working your butt off!”
Katlin Smith, Simple Mills
“I really enjoy what I do and am passionate about it, and that means I love working hard. At the same time, I strive to live a full life that includes all the things that matter to me: I care a lot about family and friends, so I make time for that as well. My calendar has every minute of every day planned to make the most of my time. I fit the biggest pieces in first and fit the smaller pieces in around those. That might mean full vacations or a day or two for R & R. I schedule smaller meetings and other commitments around these because I know if I don’t make space for the time away, it won’t happen (and time away essential for clearing my mind and resetting). I also try to find ways to strategize my productivity, like getting up early to get work done or trying to work through my list while in an Uber, rather than scrolling through Instagram. Also, no matter what time of year it is, ask for help from your team when you need it.”
Pro tip: “Take advantage of the extra hours of daylight. Get up early and get started on your day.”
Sandi Lin, Skilljar
“While my work days tend to be 11-12 hours long year-round, my work travel tends to be much lighter in the summer, which actually gives me more time to take care of both work and life. I always take a week off in August to spend with my family. That’s been my primary vacation in recent years and something that I prioritize. In Seattle, the days are very long in the summer, so it’s also easier to exercise outdoors either before or after working hours; plus, I find the summer weather and sunshine in Seattle to be very restorative, so this time of year I tend to feel more balanced. My team is always working hard but naturally takes more vacation during the summer which slows the overall pace a bit. I think it’s important for leaders to create balance at all times of year—it’s a marathon, not a sprint—so I try to be consistent about exercise, diet and sleep. It’s easier in the summer when it’s pleasant to be outdoors and enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables!”
Pro tip: “Remember that taking care of yourself is a priority. In my experience, female CEOs are constantly handling the needs of others: customers, employees, investors, friends and families. The summer is a great time to take deeper breaths and make sure you are practicing self-care habits, even if it’s just eating more healthfully or going on a weekend hike.”
Somya Munjal, Youthful Savings
“I start my day at around 4:30 a.m. and get to work on my to-do list. By 7 a.m., I am headed to my local yoga studio and then run the beach for three to five miles. If I’m lucky, I have time to catch a few waves, too. (I’m super lucky to reside and work in Santa Monica). I head to my office around 1 p.m. It’s always harder in the summer to not just stay at the beach. Sometimes I do, but I can justify it by doing work on my phone (while working on my tan). While the weather is great here year-round, I make a point to take trips out of the country, where I do much of my writing. Getting away is a break from my finance/education work, so these retreats are both restful and productive.”
Pro tip: “Take in the sun whenever you can. Our souls crave it!”
Meghan Ritchie, Megpies
“Because I work with my partner, Paul, my work life and personal life are very intertwined. While it can be challenging to manage the many demands and distractions of running a venture together, we are learning a lot as we grow in this phase of our life and the business.
“Summertime for me means being much more active. (Winter time is for hibernating!) This summer, both Paul and I are training for the NYC Marathon. We have a good four-days-per-week running schedule with exclusively early morning runs. I do much better in work and life if I have a good schedule going, and that includes during the summertime. The training helps us both start our days off with a little sun and fresh air and it makes a big difference in my productivity.
“We are traveling a lot for work this year. This is the first time in my life that I have had to travel for work, so I’m trying to enjoy it as much as possible. When food shows take us out of state, I plan an extra day or two on one end of the trip to explore the area we are visiting. When we’re at home, we enjoy a lot of NYC in the summer: outdoor movies or getting out on our bikes, and scheduling time to be at the beach.”
Pro tip: “I find that it is really easy for me to get caught up in work and stay indoors all day. I take quick walks outside while I’m waiting on an email or between tasks to get some time away from my screen. I get a lot more out of these mini-breaks when the weather is pleasant, and I find being outdoors helps relieve anxiety. I need to take that advice more myself, too!”