After months of navigating the hard slog, it can be tempting to kick back and coast when your workload wanes during the inevitable summer slowdown.
Taking steps to avoid burnout is all well and good, but is doing the bare minimum really the best use of your time in this quiet season?
The truth is, these slow weeks virtually free of meetings and deadlines present a great opportunity to better yourself, your skill set, and your department. Our recommendation: Make this time count. Aim to accomplish something meaningful before you get too busy again.
Not sure where to start? Try doing these eight things:
1. Organize Your Professional Space
Is your computer’s desktop cluttered with files? Is your physical desktop groaning under the weight of paperwork? A slow period at work is a good time to change all that.
Get organized: Tackle those unread emails, sort and systematize your inbox, and clean out your drawers. Reconfigure your workspace — digital and physical — to make it more functional. This will make getting things done and tracking down resources easier once work picks back up. Plus, once you’ve put your immediate environment in order, your mental space will feel a lot less chaotic, too.
2. Review Your Progress and Set New Goals
While you have some time to spare, think about your professional journey. How far have you come, and how far do you still have to go to meet the goals you’ve set for yourself, whether in this current job or in your broader career? With no urgent tasks breathing down your neck, you should have room to evaluate your career map and ensure it’s still leading where you want it to lead.
Take note (literally) of what you’ve accomplished to date, and while you’re at it, use this information to update your resume and LinkedIn profile to more accurately reflect your current situation. This way, you’ll be ready if new opportunities arise. You can also capitalize on the summer slowdown by reviewing your objectives for the coming months, mapping out how you will reach them, and setting new intentions.
3. Return to Old Projects That Have Been on the Back Burner
We all have that one big task we’ve been meaning to get to for months or even years, be it a passion project or a long-term assignment that never quite made it to the top of the to-do list. Slow days are your chance to tackle the work that’s been on the back burner for too long. If you’re not going to prioritize it now, will you ever prioritize it?
4. Learn, Read, Research
Now that you have a little more time to breathe, why not shift your focus from everyday work to professional growth? Take an online course to sharpen your skills or acquire new competencies. Research the state of your field or industry to better understand where it’s headed and how you can prepare. Read relevant websites and trade publications and listen to insightful podcasts to keep up with the latest news and trends.
5. Automate Tedious Processes
When you’re fighting against a relentless tide of work, there’s no time to stop, reflect, and determine whether you are really approaching your duties in the smartest, most efficient way possible. In the summer slowdown, on the other hand, you have ample opportunity to think about the big picture. Pinpoint tasks that can be automated and processes that can be streamlined, and look into tools that can help you maintain higher productivity with less effort all year long.
6. Reconnect With Your Colleagues
Your network is one of your most valuable professional assets, but connections between people whither with time — unless you actively cultivate them.
Use your newfound free time to check in with past coworkers, superiors, and clients. Message them on LinkedIn, shoot them an email, or invite them to coffee. While you’re at it, work on strengthening your ties with current colleagues, too. Initiate conversations in the office, volunteer to help people with difficult tasks, and organize group lunches or after-work get-togethers. Building relationships with your coworkers will pay off now and in the long run.
7. Pick Up Some Secondary Work
Have you been itching to explore a business idea for some time? A side hustle is a great way to diversify your income stream or break into a new industry, but building a successful one takes some effort. Get your gig going now while you have the drive, the energy, and the extra hours.
8. Unwind and Recharge
Making the seasonal slump count also means prioritizing relaxation. Once fall arrives and your work picks back up, you’ll have a hard time keeping up if you didn’t use the summer months to recuperate. Spend quality time with family and friends, pick up a new hobby, exercise more, and take moments just for yourself. Focus on refilling your cup, and you’ll have more to give when office life returns to its pre-summer pace.