How to make the most of the summer holidays

How to make the most of the summer holidays

It seems mad to me that we’re already halfway through the calendar year. That means I’m supposed to be at least halfway through my goals for this year (!). And it means I’m about to head off into my first-ever stretch of summer holidays with school-age children no longer in full-time childcare. This makes it an important moment of reflection and planning for how to make the most of the summer holidays, both personally and professionally.

First, it goes without saying that productivity tends to take a dip over the summer period. Second, and perhaps this does need saying: that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

On my side, I’ve done quite a bit of planning and organising to balance out business needs with relaxation and family time (including booking holiday clubs and trips away as well as ‘batching’ content for my podcast and social channels). But I’m also setting the intention to allow for flexibility depending how I’m feeling, what the kids are doing, and whatever else life might throw at us in the coming weeks.

Here are my suggestions for how you can make the most of the summer holidays as a leader (in a corporate role or in your own business):

1. Take time off

    It can be tempting to forgo breaks to deal with the growing demands of your job. It might seem admirable and even necessary to just keep plugging away to get through everything you have to do.

    That is a mistake, however. Continuing at the same pace will not be as beneficial as you think, and it may even be harmful; both to you and to the people around you. You need a break. Your team needs a break. Take the break.

    And, by the way, taking a break can (and should) involve taking a ‘proper’ holiday. But it can also involve taking more walks outside when the sun is shining, holding outdoor meetings, and following a more flexible schedule during the summer period.

    2. Lead by example

      Speaking of team: as a leader, you need to be setting the right tone for the team. While it might seem that you’re demonstrating great dedication by working all the time over the summer, you’re sending the wrong message here.

      You should be role modelling the behaviour that you expect from your team, and that means respecting boundaries and taking this time to recharge. It also means showing that you trust your team to deliver in your absence. You will all come back to work feeling revitalised and so much more productive as a result.

      If you do need to work when you’re meant to be on holiday, do so quietly. Share the documents, and send your emails, when you’re back in the office. (Or, at least, add one of those PS qualifications to your emails: “I choose to work flexibly and send emails outside of normal office hours. I don’t expect you to respond to my emails outside yours.”)

      3. Reflect and take stock

        There are certain points of the year that present natural moments of reflection – January is an obvious one, September with its ‘back-to-school’ feel, and the summer break is another.

        Reflect on the year so far. What have you achieved? What have you learned? What do you still want to get done by the end of the year? What action do you want to make sure you take when you’re back after the summer? (I will be doing a series of mini-episodes with prompts over on the Reimagining Success podcast, so keep an eye out for those!)

        Time away from your normal routine can bring such an important change of perspective and awareness of what really matters. What is it that’s most important to you going forwards?

        4. Broaden your horizons

          The slower pace over the summer can be a great opportunity for accelerating your personal and professional development. You might be feeling frustrated that you can’t move forwards on all your projects, but try to see the positive side of this.

          With so many people out of the office, there should be fewer meetings, fewer emergencies, and more breathing space to catch up on things that usually take a backseat.

          Read books. Listen to podcasts. Maybe even work through a training or course. Make time for broadening your field of vision and gaining a new perspective.

          5. Wherever you are, be present

            There is nothing worse than being in one place and feeling like you should be in another. Being stuck working indoors when ‘everyone else’ is outside enjoying the heatwave. Being out with your kids while your mind is preoccupied by problems at work.

            Wherever you are, be fully there. If you’re at work, be at work. If you’re with family, be with family. Set those clear boundaries, and try your best to uphold them.

            Otherwise, you risk those horrible feelings of guilt and resentment that will stop you from engaging fully in whatever you are ‘supposed to’ be doing.

            Here’s the harsh truth: your work will survive without you. And, if you don’t take a little break now, you’ll be forced to take a longer one when you inevitably burn out. Then your work really will have to survive without you; because your health is not something that you can neglect. Nor is your family.

            How are you preparing for the summer break? What intentions are you setting?

            I’d love to hear your tips and strategies for making the most of the summer holidays – as a business leader, and as a human being.

            I’ll see you on the other side!

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