Strategies for a Productive Summer

Copyright 2006 Synergy Strategies

In our busy and fast-paced world, summer (June – August) is commonly the time when kids are off from school, people travel, weddings and graduations occur, and family reunions take place. It’s a time when the frantic pace of work slows down a bit, simply because the people who are typically driving are taking a break. This puts you in the driver’s seat! This gives you a chance to take advantage of the downtime and better position yourself so that you can play full out when the pace picks back up in the fall.

To assist you, I want to give you five strategies on how to maximize this “season” when you or others (clients, co-workers, vendors, etc.) are away, so that you are prepared to charge for the rest of the year!

1) Rest. The concept of periodicity means that you allow your body a time to rest, re-engage, and recharge (or train) so that you achieve maximum energy and the results that you want during the periods that require you to push harder. If you continue at 150 mph 24 hours per day/7 days per week, you will burn out. More importantly, you will not get the results you want. So, plan time each summer for a period of rest. (For you workaholics out there, rest means no voicemail, no email, no clients, no “work mode”, no initiatives that are not wholly enjoyable. Turn off work 100% while on vacation! If you do, your ability to run full out when you return will be twice as great.)

2) Clean up. The days before you leave on vacation are a great time to make a game plan for yourself when you return. Your departure date is a deadline that’s not likely to move. Start by challenging yourself to sort the emails, do all of the follow-ups, and close the open loops before you leave. As you do this, make a list for when you return of what you will do next. If you want to be most productive, schedule what you will do when, so you can resume your working habits quickly when you return.

3) Schedule “catch up” time. If you are able, allow a “phase in” plan that provides you with personal time in the office to go through email, mail, and other things that have accumulated while you were gone. Often, people come back to a full schedule with no time to “re-settle” which is why they work on vacation. Resist the urge to work while away. Instead, plan for the inevitable chaos that will be there when you return: block off part of a day when you first return to catch up.

4) Create a project plan. This season, if you will not be traveling and are left at the office while others are away, you may find yourself in the “summer lulls”. Before this slower season even hits, have a plan for what you want to accomplish during the down time. This is your “off season.” Use this time to do the projects that are important, but not urgent: this is the time for the projects that you just never seem to get to, such as updating your website, reading, taking personal development classes, etc. Know in advance how you will use this time so that you are prepared to dive into these projects once the slower season rolls in.

5) Take “time off” at home. Take a week off at home. Put aside all of those long term projects, household chores, and yard work. Spend a full week clearing up all of the tolerations that keep you frustrated and discouraged, such as fixing the printer that always prints crookedly, organizing your pots and pans, buying a calendar to organize your family, or moving the chair that you stub your toe on each morning. Plan one week where your focus is on streamlining, simplifying, and organizing your home and personal life so that during the rest of the year, you can charge forward!

Remember to allow yourself a true rest, clear up the clutter before you go and have a plan for how you will handle coming back, productively use the slower season in the office, and tidy up loose ends at home. When you are active and intentional during this slower season, employing the strategies that we’ve discussed here today, you too will have a winning, successful year!