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The Dog Days of Summer

During the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day, most of us become accustomed to the inevitable summer slow-down. Key people aren’t available, projects stall, and a general sense of inertia begins to creep in.

But summer doesn’t need to be a write-off! Here are six ways you can use these months to get ahead of the game:

  1. Conduct your personal annual review. There’s something seemingly magical about the calendar year-end that has us all trapped in its spell. We see the turn of the year as a time for reflection and a time to plan the year ahead. But the reality is the calendar year-end is an entirely mechanistic construction. I suggest you move your personal annual review to the summer. You still get to review the entire previous year, but you also get to do it in a much less frenzied state, and with much more likelihood that you will actually implement the lessons you learn (remember all those never-happened new years’ resolutions?).

  2. Read. Most of us read less than we ought to. Grab just two books from the pile you’ve been meaning to get to, and build a daily reading time into your summer schedule. Read consciously, deliberately, and read to learn.

  3. Review your project list. You should know by now which of your current-year projects are bearing fruit, which are dead in the water, and which are still teetering between the two. Use the summer dead-time to review your project list; if you don’t have a master list of every project you’re involved in, create one!

  4. Take a break. I am not a great role model for this one, but I suggest everyone take a real break. Not one of those “I’m away, but I’ll be checking my email and voicemail” breaks…take the time to totally and completely unplug.

  5. Do something “it’s never the right time for.” Go paperless. Change your accountant. Take up yoga. What projects are on your “someday/maybe” list that you wanted to start, but have felt “this isn’t the right time to start?” Well, now is absolutely the time. Pull up that list of deferred projects (or spend 10 minutes recollecting and listing them), pick one, and get started.

  6. Give back. Many leaders I know are generous of heart and spirit, but are so consumed with daily responsibilities that their ability to give back to the wider community shrinks, often to the point of becoming inactive. If the last occasion you can recall doing something altruistic and substantial is over a year ago, why not make this summer the time to change that? Don’t make the giving back (necessarily) about money. Instead, give what is most valuable to you: your time. Volunteer, mentor, coach, encourage. I guarantee that you—and therefore your business—will be the better for it.

I look forward to hearing how you spent the dog days of summer!


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