Getting Rid of the Summer Doldrums

Stuck in the office when everyone else is on the beach? Stuck at work when no one is there to move things forward? Every project you have moving slowly because some key decision-maker is on vacation?

Welcome to summer in the office. Whether a startup or corporate America, we all feel it. Those dreaded dog days, when all you can think about is how soon you can get out of work. No one is making decisions, no new employees are starting, and the break room is a ghost town.

So, how do you get your groove back? How do you make sure that come Labor Day, your boss won’t be screaming about the lack of progress on that major client project? Here are five tips to get you going:

  1. Use the time to get to know the people in town. Have lunch with someone new, or someone from another department. Reach out to a former colleague, drop a note to that dormant prospect. Go to some networking events outside of your usual orbit. Heck, there are still a few of us spending the summer in the city.
  2. Get the fall stuff teed up now. We’ve all heard the old adage: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Grab that summer slow season to line up your fall game plan. Heck, even NFL players start camp this week. Maybe it’s reviewing a list of dormant clients, project timelines, or enhancements. It’s a good time for some self-reflection and evaluation. Figure out what’s on that post-Labor Day to-do list, and get it teed up now. Think about how it will look to your boss when you hit the ground running on Sept. 3 (and all your coworkers are just catching up on their emails).
  3. Professional development. Take advantage of the slow time to deepen your knowledge. That white paper or industry briefing you’ve been meaning to read? Maybe you want to learn or brush up on a particular tech or sales skill? Now you have that time.

    In my office, we’ve been doing a summer Professional Development Series called “Tuesdays @ Twelve,” which delves into a different topic each week. Employees can come to all or none, or even pop in for a half an hour. The topics are far-ranging, and designed to deepen knowledge of all things digital. Some are taught by outside experts, some by internal people with deep subject matter expertise. This week, it was “Ad Ops Inside Out,” taught by my top ad ops recruiter. A few weeks ago, an RTB expert was here. My staff loves these things, and a few of them have volunteered to teach additional sessions.

    For those of you in management, these things send a great mesasge to your staff: that you want them to grow, and are giving time on the company dime to do it. For most of us, these are the things that we all think we know, but it helps to keep our industry knowledge current. And be sure to let your boss know that you are working on improving your professional self. Write a note with tips you learned at that webinar.

  4. Incorporate the summer and the heat into your marketing and sales strategy. Here’s a great example of an email marketing tactic (shout out to Leslie Reed at my company for this idea!):

    SUBJ: Did you know that eating spicy food can cool you down?

    BODY: This is because spicy food can make you sweat without raising your body temperature. Once your skin is damp, you feel cooled by its evaporation. Since we are in the middle of a heat wave in NYC, I thought I’d share this fun fact.

    Now, wouldn’t that get your attention? She also gave tips such as wearing guayabera or seersucker, cooling your pulse points, and grazing vs. eating heavy protein-laden meals. It worked!

  5. Get up and move! We’ve all heard that exercise is a great stress reliever. You can make it work for you even if you don’t have time to hit the gym. Sitting in a cube all day? Stand up and stretch more. Walk a flight of steps instead of taking the elevator. Use the printer or the bathroom on the far side of the office. Do some bicep curls with your water bottle. Try some seated leg extensions. Raise your hands and do a mini-backbend from your chair. One of my colleagues was recently doing some standing yoga poses while on a conference call. Looked a little strange, but it worked for her.

And , for those of you in leadership positions: be a role model. Seeing your boss slack off is like having a substitute teacher in school. Show your staff that you’re making it happen over the summer. Run a summer incentive, maybe even beta test that wild idea, to encourage your employees to be productive. Acknowledge those employees who are here keeping things rolling along. Besides the obvious bonus, email recognition can be a powerful tool. Most of your employees on vacation will probably check their email every now and then, so that recognition can be seen by everyone. And don’t forget the little things: surprise them with ice cream on that hot day.

So, how are things in your office? Anything getting done in the dog days of summer? You just punching the clock or are you using your time wisely? Hope these tips keep you motivated and moving forward.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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