It’s finally summer time.
That means warm days, fun trips and outdoor fun. But it can also mean slow days in the office.
With your coworkers being OOO more regularly throughout the summer months, meetings get cancelled, your e-mails go unanswered for longer, and team projects can get stalled, which can leave you with some extra time to fill up. If you’re not someone with a packed summer of weddings, vacations and long weekends, you may be finding yourself taking a longer lunch and scanning social media more than usual.
But just because you don’t have as much of your normal work doesn’t mean you can’t be just as productive during summer. To get you started, here some things I like to do when it gets a little light at work:
- Plan Lunch Dates: Less work means you actually have time to take a lunch outside the office. Seize the opportunity and make a weekly lunch date throughout the summer months with coworkers, mentors or business contacts to reconnect, talk shop or expand your network. You can obviously do this throughout the year, but during the slower times you won’t feel as stressed or rushed, so you can enjoy and get a lot more out of the interaction.
- Get (Way) Ahead: When you feel like all your immediate work is done, look down the road to see or anticipate your next project. If it’s a big one, it’s never too early to start. What can you do now to better prepare you for it later? Even if it’s as simple as creating checklists, calendar invites/reminders or agenda templates. Then once it’s time to officially get started, you’ll be prepared and already on your way to completion.
- Seek Improvements / Innovations: Summer is a great time to slow down and reflect. Not only personally, but also professionally. Take a deeper look at the processes or best practices on your team or across teams. There can always be improvements so take this time to research and propose some new best practices, technologies or innovations that your team can benefit from. Then share them or set up a meeting to get the conversation started and discuss next steps.
- Attend Trainings / Talks: A lot of companies host internal trainings or talks throughout the year. Take advantage of these during the summer months. Why? If you’re not crazy busy, you’ll pay more attention to the content, instead of checking e-mail every 5 minutes. If your company doesn’t offer trainings or talks, check out local industry and professional groups’ event calendars, or even Eventbrite and Meetup. Also, if you have a allocated dollar amount for professional development, ask your manager if you can attend a training course outside of work for a day or half day that pertains to your job or will help expand your skill set.
- Give Back: If you’re fortunate enough to have volunteer time off (VTO), take advantage of it. Even if it’s just an hour during lunch or in between meetings a few times a month. Make time to volunteer now because once it starts picking up again, you may be too mentally or physically tired to regularly give back.
- Check In With Yourself: When it’s slow, you have the opportunity to step back and think about your career as a whole and ask yourself some important questions. Check in with yourself and make sure you’re growing in your role, feel happy and fulfilled, and think about what might be next for you. If you’re happy in your role, set goals with yourself and manager to help you get to the next level. If you’re unhappy, find out why and work with your manager to discuss your work load, role or why you may be struggling and determine ways to adjust. If you realize you’re miserable in your job and know you don’t have a future in your role or at your company, start researching and talking with others about alternative career options internally or start the job hunting process. Whatever your situation, slowdowns at work are a great time to access your career path and set yourself up for future success.
What do you do when it’s slow at work?