Over the summer months, many of us continue in business as usual mode with the same routines—reacting to our email and our calendars set by others’ agendas. We move along in our white pants and sunglasses, with one or two weeks of vacation thrown in for good measure. We often begin September feeling like summer came and went without much remarkable to differentiate it from the rest of our year, save some sweaty commutes and a couple of lovely beach days. Now with summer nearly half over (yes, startling, I know!), I’ve had some time to reflect and ask myself:
- What am I planning to accomplish during this naturally slower paced time of year?
- Am I tracking toward achieving those goals?
- What will success look like? Will I feel I hit the mark as I regroup over Labor Day Weekend?
After I drop my girls off at day camp at 9 am, I wipe my brow and focus on these things that will make my summer months stand out as a short window of time with a big impact.
Contrary to popular belief—summer is a fantastic time to reach out to former colleagues, contacts in your field, companies you’re interested in joining long-term—anyone who’s been on your “grab coffee or drinks” list for awhile. And if you don’t have that list, start creating it when you have some down-time (like right now!). The office has a natural slow-down feel while people collectively take vacation—allowing you to have more space to set up fun meetings to connect. Summer also brings out a more relaxed and open tone to these conversations that may not happen at other times of year.
September through the end of the year is career and corporate crunch time. We’re tasked to: make or beat annual revenue, achieve or exceed professional development goals, spend all the money we were too busy or hesitant to spend throughout the year, and do everything we said we would do in January. By taking some of your summer hours to rework the plan, adjust the monthly targets and get creative about how to re-invest those extra dollars—you are setting yourself up for a fall where you can actually enjoy the changing of the leaves and get excited about the kids going back to school.
3. Big Projects
You want to learn a new skill? Take a class. You want to write a short story? Block out the hours and write your first draft. You want to de-clutter the kids’ rooms while they’re at camp (very hypothetical, of course)? Get out those garbage bags and go to town. Choose one or two projects that you want to accomplish over the summer. They should be your top priority projects, the kind that when you visualize completing them—you get a physical feeling of relief. If you have ten big projects on your list for summer—go back and edit. Schedule the others for later in the year so you don’t simply cross them off the list. The goal here is not to make your summer chaotic and overwhelming—it’s to get something big and high priority accomplished so you feel like you took a leap in an area that’s meaningful to you.
4. Vacation Strategy
I have already had my fair number of client calls this summer WHILE my clients were on vacation. They’re often doing some work while they’re out, but in most cases—not an overwhelming amount. Ironically, the fact that they’re not completely disconnected is stressing them out more than the work itself. For people with intense careers that they love, I like to flip the idea of vacation on its head and ask: What are the things you want to do this week that will make it feel like vacation? The answers may be read a novel, spend time with family, grill and eat dinner outside. Completely disconnecting may not be on the list—and that’s ok. Schedule those vacation gems in your days first and then if you need to check email once a day and take a couple of calls—make sure those things don’t interfere with your vacation gems. You get to create what a vacation means to you and once you do, you can use YOUR design as your go to approach.
Most importantly—to make summer feel like a standout player in your year—make the most of these months by peppering your schedule with those summer-specific things that bring you joy. Outdoor movies and music. Rooftop bars with old friends. Playing hooky on a slow day without meetings. And of course, the beach. The beach. The beach.