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The Cicadas, the Cottage and Productivity


Man, it was hot this week in Toronto. One of the things I never learned how to do well was convert celsius to fahrenheit, but my guess is that it approached 100 most days.

I’ve had a lot of prep work to do this week. Because of the lure outdoors, in the evenings I have taken my materials out to the back deck to work on them.

This is when I noticed them–the cicadas. Not being an Ontario cottager in the summer, I don’t think I noticed them this early in the year. Hearing them reminds me of the locusts in Chicago, but that’s another story for another blog.

Cicadas are a calming influence. Their repetitive background noise lets you take in the rest of the summer evening experience–the warm breeze, the rustle of the trees, the stars, the smell of jasmine and the sounds of splashing in the neighbour’s pool.

Toronto is one of those weird cities with an inherent productivity problem. I was thinking about this as I was enjoying the cicadas. Toronto is on the doorstep of one of the greatest vacationlands in the world–the Muskokas. It is otherwise known here as “Cottage Country”. I remember the first summer that I lived here. I felt that in July I was about the only person in the office. It took a few business cycles to realize this fact–Don’t try to schedule meeting in July because no one is here. The manufacturing plants shut down. The work-from-home people move their office up to their cottage. The roads are quiet. You might as well put up a sign yourself saying “Gone Fishin” because quite frankly everyone else has.

I recently watched a TV program in which they talked about how much negative pressure there was in the U.S. to take vacation. I think in Canada it is the exact opposite. We all DO take our vacations. The problem is, we all seem to take them at the same time. I’m not sure if there should be blame placed on us for doing so. After all, this is Canada, and it can be bloody cold at other times of the year.

If your vacationland is only a few hours away, though, do you actually “get away”? That part I don’t know. What I do know is that the month of July is great for some things if you are working (like getting to the office takes 1/2 the time) but terrible if you have multi parties trying to complete a project. Forget about it! Worse, vacationland is so popular that even though you’re intending to go there to relax, the drive up there is so horrendous that you have to be careful about road rage. I wonder how easy it is to unwind from a bout of bad traffic?

We don’t have a cottage. For one, the thought of fighting the traffic never appealed to me, and for another, my parents have a lake house in Wisconsin we go to instead. Travelling there means that we are truly getting away, since it is a 13 hour drive. I can honestly say that when we go, we have checked out.

And bringing it back to the EO list, many years ago we decided to go on a sparse distribution in July. It is not that HR professionals in Toronto stop looking for jobs in July, but I hate to say it, they might as well. Those recruiting are at the cottage. Those who work the network who send contributions are also there as well.

Well, have a great July. For those in town, please connect, for those who aren’t see you in August.

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