By: Emma Pierce
For many professionals, the summer months can seem exceedingly quiet and a bit lifeless, as many work colleagues head out on family vacations for weeks at a time, while some organizations may even shut down their offices for a brief period over the less busy, warm-weather months. But the flip side is that summer can be a great time to take advantage of the business lull and focus on optimizing your work activities for career development, thus ensuring that the back half of your professional year will be a success. It’s the perfect time to focus on you.
Clean Your Workspace
It’s easy for a workspace to get cluttered with papers, dust and tchotchkes that people have dropped off over the past several months, but a messy desk sends the wrong message to your colleagues and also to yourself: it can be viewed as a sign of disorganization, and if you’re a young professional, it might even signify a lack of maturity. Disorganization and clutter also have a significant personal impact; as bestselling author and Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo notes in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, getting organized and removing clutter can significantly improve motivation and inspiration.
Catch-up on Emails
Just as with your desk, it’s likely your email inbox is deep with loads of answered emails or emails flagged for follow-up. With most professionals receiving hundreds of emails a week, it’s difficult to catch up, but the summer is a great time to clean out your inbox or follow up on unanswered email. Clearing out your inbox will also give you a sense of accomplishment and open up time to focus on more important activities. (You may also find that you overlooked something important during the hustle and bustle of your busy season!)
Create Mid-Year Goals
The beginning of the year shouldn’t be the only time that you evaluate your career and personal goals — especially since end-of-year reviews and career planning tend to be rushed, because it’s the busiest time of year. So take advantage of the quiet of summer to assess your career options, realign your priorities, and set new goals for the remaining months. If you write a list, make sure to start each goal using an active verb, so they’re all in a call-to-action format.
Get New Headshots
Most people look their best over the summer: the relaxing vibe of summer eliminates stress lines, while fitness and healthy eating habits, in expectation of beach vacations, result in a slimmer, trimmer self. Added to that is that the sun typically adds a bit of a glow to everyone’s skin! So take advantage of this to update your headshot photos. Plus, if you haven’t gotten a new professional headshot in 3-5 years, it’s time. And it’s okay to get creative with it, as long as you look professional. Take a look on LinkedIn at people with similar job titles and industries to see what’s suitable.
Update Your Resumé
Even if you love your job, you should always have an updated resumé on hand. You never know if a new internal or external opportunity will come up, and you don’t want to feel rushed when it does. Also, resumé formats have changed over the years, so it’s recommended to consult a professional or our resumé template guide. You might even be able to talk your HR person to help you (since they might have more free time during the summer). Plus, updating your resumé is a good way to assess your career progression and will help you set goals for the next 6-12 months.
Amplify Your LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn profile is your public resumé. If you’re not actively seeking employment, you may have forgotten that it exists. But prospective employers, customers and work colleagues can review it at any time, so make sure it lets you shine:
– Update Your Photo
– Write a Custom Summary
– Update Your Experience Sections (don’t just copy & paste from your resumé)
Network with Old Colleagues
Most job opportunities come from referrals, and you never know when an opportunity arises — but during the busy months of life and work, it’s easy to lose contact with former business colleagues. However, summer can actually be a great time to reach out and reconnect, given that your associates may be less stressed than at other times of the year. So make sure you’re top of mind for them. It’s also always great to catch up with old friends at an outdoor café or patio, as well!
Start an Exercise Program
The long days of summer provide a great time to start a new fitness regime. You have extra daylight time to attend a class or hit the running trail after work. Exercise also increases energy and enhances your focus, so you can be more efficient at the office. In fact, if you want to catch up on work and work out at the same time, consider asking a colleague to join you.
Take Summer Classes
Continued education is very important for career development. Colleges often offer open summer classes for local residents. So take a class to enhance your skills or help you think out of your normal professional box.
Read Business Books
Most professionals don’t have time to read business books on a regular basis, but while you’re relaxing by the pool or taking a break from your September-to-May prime time shows over the summer, pick up a few of the top business books at the bookstore, or download them on your Kindle. Reading business books is a great way to continue your education and gain career development.