“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine… it’s summertime!” Kenny Chesney has it right – summertime is here, and it seems to brighten everyone’s mood. Now we find ourselves in August already and the summer days are passing by.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, we enjoy the summer months when the days get warm and long, and we can end our evenings with unmatched sunsets. Through the winter we wait so long for summer to come and then it goes far too quickly. It seems when you talk to people, everyone is in a hurry trying to fit everything in. I find I am often in a hurry too. It seems I am always rushing around with all the important things I have to do. Work is so fast paced these days with an everchanging environment of opportunities and challenges; home life is ever moving with an active family, and it seems we run from activity to activity.

How can we use our time wisely and make the most of our precious summer months? Here are five easy ways I have found to make the most of every day:

1. Wake up on the right side of the bed. A morning routine that starts your day in a positive way will impact your entire day. Your routine will look different from mine, but what is important is to create an effective start that works for you. You may enjoy a cup of coffee with the morning news, a quiet time, or exercise class.

2. Make a list and check it twice. Either the night before or at the beginning of each day, set 3-5 goals to accomplish. If you are working on a large project, break it into a task or two you can finish today. Now review your list and prioritize to get the most important items at the top and do them first.

3. Keep it simple. Many of us pack far too much into our day and end up feeling unproductive and worn out. What meetings are on your calendar that are unnecessary? What project should be delegated to a team member? What process is too complicated or even unnecessary? Simplify, simplify, simplify.

4. Do something nice. Find the time each day to bring value to someone else. Treat a team member to coffee; make a phone call to the friend who needs an ear; write a love note to your spouse.

5. Take time to play. If you really like your work, you may have formed the bad habit of not taking time out for play. With the long summer days there is no excuse for not getting out. What is the hobby you have stopped making time for – photography, biking, golf? If necessary, schedule time in your calendar to make it happen. Have the beach party or backyard BBQ. Better yet, book the week of vacation you have been putting off.

We all have 24 hours in every day and it is our choice how we will use them. Follow these steps and start your day right, accomplish more, and make time for fun. Summer is short, so let’s make the most of this special time.