Work and summer. Two words we really wish we didn’t have to say in the same sentence.
I mean, what happened to the days of actual summer? Like when we were growing up and summer felt like a break from our normal daily lives. None of this being a working adult all year round business. Just thinking about it sounds relaxing, doesn't it?
Now, my guess is that while you probably had a summer job in high school and college (and therefore have worked during the summer before), it was just that - a summer job. It was temporary and probably pretty low stakes. Your main focuses were building your resume and making some cash before going back to school, rather than long term career growth. Back then, you’d swap intern stories with your friends, you’d come home to a home-cooked meal and you likely didn’t have to pay rent. I’m willing to guess you even showed up hungover a few times. Am I right?
After being used to a true summer vacation for so many years of our lives, it’s easy to yearn for the days of fun in the sun when we become adults. In fact, I think that our school calendars program us in a way to feel like summer should be free time. You work super hard throughout the school year and then summer is your reward, a time when you can take a break from the stress of exams, papers and extracurricular activities.
As adults, however, most of us have jobs that require us to be in the office all year round. Therefore, we don't get the same summer break (i.e. mental break) like we used to. And changing that mentality the day you graduate from college is no easy task.
The sheer difficulty of making this mental shift is apparent in our work environments. Even when we need to be year-round working adults, so many people (both colleagues and clients) take lots of time off in the summer. Between vacations and summer Fridays, there is hardly a day when everyone on a given team is in the office at the same time. Work often slows down as a result and we then find ourselves facing office boredom because we're not busy and engaged all day, nor are we motivated by empty desks. Instead, we find ourselves staring out the window, wishing we were outside (or literally anywhere else) and not under those damn fluorescent lights.
I like to call this slow but restless time at work the summer slump. And the truth is that we all experience it in some way.
I mean, who wants to be in an office when you could be enjoying the great outdoors or traveling to new destinations or visiting friends and family? It’s completely natural to feel like you’d rather be elsewhere than sitting at your desk when the weather is so beautiful and everyone else seems to be taking full advantage of the summer days. FOMO is the worst, isn't it?
But the reality is that your adult job is no longer merely a summer job - it’s your job all year round. This means that although things may slow down in the office throughout the summer, your performance during this time still matters. Your boss, colleagues and clients still notices if you’re late for work or not getting your job done or if you’re exuding a “I don’t give a shit about being here” attitude.
While it completely makes sense that the summer slump can easily kill your motivation and productivity, progressing in your career comes from showing consistency in your performance as an employee. No matter the time of year.
So how do you combat the summer slump and show that you’re a stellar employee even if the sunshine is calling your name?
TOP 3 WAYS TO AVOID THE SUMMER SLUMP
1. Be proactive
While things are slow in the office with projects or clients, this is a perfect time to map out what you want to happen career wise over the next 6 months.
Want a raise and/or promotion at the end of the year? Great!
Start thinking about what that looks like. How much money do you want to ask for? What role or title do you want to move into? Start writing down all of the successes you’ve had in your current role and why you feel like you deserve a raise/promotion. Then schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss your future. Ask questions about what they are looking for from you in order to qualify for a raise or promotion.
Starting the discussion ahead of time will a) give you a sense of what you need to accomplish between now and then, and b) show your boss that you are forward thinking and proactive at a time when many employees slack off.
Want to apply for a new job in the fall? Cool!
Take this slow summer time at work to get clear on what you want in a job, what kind of salary you want to make, what companies interest you, and why you’d be a great candidate. Once you’ve identified the jobs/companies you’re looking to join, get the conversation going. Start networking with people who might be able to refer you in, reach out to recruiters, etc.
Getting a new job doesn’t necessarily happen with the snap of your fingers, so getting some of the leg work done ahead of actually applying will save you time later on.
2. Buddy Up and Treat Yo’selves
One of the best ways to hold yourself accountable to anything is to have an accountability partner.
I serve as that person for my clients as we work through their career and life goals. If their goals apply to something in their current work environment, I often suggest they buddy up with someone at work too as it's an added layer of accountability for their day-to-day tasks. When it comes to getting shit done at the office during the summer, having a colleague who is physically there with you is super helpful! (Really this is applicable to any time of year too!)
So grab your office bestie or another colleague who is trying to stay on top of things during the summer and hold each other accountable. Decide you’ll do 1-2 hours of work (say you need to put together client contracts and she needs to review resumes) and go heads down. That means no checking your phone, social media, or personal email - just focus on that thing you need to get done in the next 1-2 hours.
Then once you’re both done, treat yo’selves! Go grab a coffee down the street (or even in the office kitchen). Take a 10 minute walk outside. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s giving you a break from your work and getting you out of your desk chair and moving.
The combo of having an accountability partner and a well-deserved treat for your solid work sesh is great for helping you to focus and get shit done, rather than staring out the window wishing you were outside.
3. Take Vacation
This may sound counter intuitive since I’m telling you not to slack off at work during the summer, but actually taking some time off will make you more productive.
Rather than sitting at your desk every day dreaming about the beach, take some vacation days and go to the beach. If you’re sitting around bored and miserable, then you’re not going to have the motivation you need to do the work at hand. So give yourself a break, rest up and have some fun.
By taking some time off, you'll hit the reset button. Then, when you come back to the office, you'll be much more focused because you gave your brain/body a break. Sounds good, right? Now hop to it and book some days off, lady!
So, if you feel the summer slump starting to creep into your office this summer, just remember the above strategies for getting your focus back. Trust me, as tempting as it is to slack off during the summer months, you'll thank yourself in the fall when things pick back up. Everyone else will be scrambling to catch up on the work they put off all summer while you stay level headed and on top of your own work.
Found this helpful or have other strategies that have worked for you? Let me know in the comments below! Want some further help with beating the summer slump? Set up your FREE 30 minute call with yours truly!