Ten Tips to Avoid the Heat This Summer in Your Home and Your Business

It’s entirely possible that Britain has had the only three days of sunshine it’ll get this summer, and while I’m writing this, it’s monsoon weather out there. Regardless, summer is an interesting time for anyone working running a small business, so here are a few tips to beat off the heat both in your home office and in your business.

Keep your house cool

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First let’s look at a few tips to keep your house from heating up during the day:

1. Setup fans to make the air circulate

Rather than just letting air blow towards you, setup two fans along a “corridor” area crossing your house or apartment – from bedroom to office or kitchen to living room. One should face inwards and the other outwards so as to encourage the natural airflow throughout the rooms.

2. Get it done before the heat kicks in

Let the fresh air into the house early in the morning. Open all the windows, and let the crisp morning air cool down the house before the sun gets too strong.

In the same spirit, get your toughest work done early in the morning. Once it gets too warm and you can’t focus, you’ll be able to take on the easy tasks (or pop out for an ice cream!)

3. Keep the blinds down

Throughout the day, selectively shut blinds and windows on the sunny side of the house to avoid turning your home office into an oven.

4. Rehydrate

You may not be doing very physical activity when working at home, but when it’s hot around you, you’ll sweat nonetheless. Be sure to drink plenty of water to keep your brain working at its best.

5. Make iced coffee

If like me, you need your caffeine to get the day going, try this cold-brewed iced coffee. Sure, the soaking coffee grounds look like a bowl of mud in the fridge, but it makes delicious iced coffee and can be prepared in larger quantity to last a few days. It’s a great way to avoid hot beverages if you’re already feeling too toasty.

Keep your business cool

1. Warn clients ahead of your holidays

If you’re a fairly small outfit, you may not have significant backup when you go on holiday. Let your clients know at least a few weeks in advance, so that any urgent work can be communicated ahead of time.

With difficult clients, it’s worth setting the ground rules ahead of time, letting them know that they need to give you at least a week’s notice for work that needs to be done ahead of a holiday. If you let them know that this ensures you can give them quality results and avoid releasing dodgy code on a Friday night before you go away for two weeks, they’ll (usually) appreciate that it’s for their own good as well as yours.

2. Get backup from colleagues

Wherever possible, build good relationships with industry colleagues who you trust and could rely on to take over while you’re away. Whether it’s running a monthly report for a client or being on-call if things go wrong, it’ll be a relief to have someone back home dealing with it so you don’t have to pick up on the beach!

3. Plan your summer development

Before the summer starts, map out everyone’s holidays on a calendar. Based on the availability, plan your development cycle in more details. Avoid making big promises or planning projects too large for periods where only a few people are in.

4. Setup server monitoring

If you’re hosting client sites, applications or services, put your mind at rest by setting up monitoring. We use Pingdom, but there are many services out there providing a similar service.

5. Create a swipe file

A swipe file is a set of templates, examples and inspiration documents, which can serve as resource or starting point when writing a proposal or starting a new project. Whether it’s a physical print file, or a set of notebooks in Evernote, it’s a great way to give any project a kickstart, especially when you’re not in the mood to be writing and would rather be out playing frisbee!

What are your tips for coping with the challenges of summer? Do you bring in extra support for your team, take on less projects or just don’t take holidays? And do you prefer Pimms & lemonade, an air conditioned office or the beach to help cope with the heat? Share your tips in case the warmth comes back! (In the meantime,  I’m off to turn the heating back on!)

[Image credit: “Vicar’s Delight” by Tower Girl on Flickr, CC]

Pitcher perfect sangria recipe

Summer has officially landed in the UK. Not a single cloud in the sky and scents of burnt barbecued meats wafting around. Oh and plenty of people also burnt to a crisp, based on my supermarket observations this morning.

Every BBQ must be accompanied by appropriate drinks. To me, that means a great big pitcher of cold, juicy sangria. After last weekend’s humongous BBQ/Garden warming party where pitchers of it were drunk faster than I could make it, I thought I should share my (not-so) secret recipe.

Vero’s Pitcher Perfect Sangria Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 parts red wine
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • 1 part lemonade (Sprite or 7-Up to the North Americans)
  • A good glug of apricot or cherry brandy
  • Lime, lemon and orange cut into small pieces
  • A splash of grenadine (optional, but a good addition if your wine isn’t so fruity/sweet)

For this recipe, don’t worry about using your best bottle of vintage red. A reasonable supermarket’s own brand red wine will do the job just fine. We tend to use Shiraz, since it’s less heavy than, say, a Merlot.

When getting lemons and limes, leave them out of the fridge the day you make sangria and roll them around under your palm before cutting the fruit. You’ll get much more juice out of them that way.

If you’re expecting to be on a marathon drinking session starting with a lunchtime BBQ, you might want to lighten up the recipe with more juices to avoid feeling woozy too early in the day. 😉

Alternative recipes:

White sangria:
Substitute red wine for white wine, use apricot brandy instead of cherry brandy for a lighter, tannin-free sangria.

Cava sangria:
Substitute red wine for a bottle of Cava or sparkling wine for a celebratory, bubbly sangria.

Bellini sangria:
Using red, white or sparkling wine, replace brandy with Archers peach schnapps and put in pieces of soft, juicy peaches instead of lemons and limes. This makes a less acidic, sweeter alternative to the classic sangria recipe.

Looking for more great summer cocktails? Check out Cocktail Happy for loads of great, easy drinks recipes!