Summer is often a time when things slow down a little – colleagues, clients and business contacts take their well-earned breaks, meaning that there is a natural lull in productivity for a lot of sectors.
This means that, as well as slowing your own pace, it can be time to reflect a little on how you work.

This summer why not use the slow down to:

Rest & re-charge
Ever had that thing where you work so hard in the lead up to your holidays that you spend the first few days on leave just catching up on sleep – or worse – that’s when you get ill! Instead of that, this summer, if you do have a slight lull, why not use the opportunity to experiment with going at a slightly slower pace? Whether or not you are going on leave, take some time to consciously, intentionally rest and re-charge. Notice what you need to restore your energy, and take the time to focus on that.

Review your work/life pattern.
When was the last time you considered all that you do in your life, and whether you have the balance right? For many of us, the idea of ‘work life balance’ can feel a bit old hat – our work and our lives are so intertwined, and our digital availability means that it can be hard to switch off. All the more reason to occasionally step back and reflect. A simple way to do this is to write down everything in your life – big or small – that requires your energy. Along with work and home / family life, remember to include the smaller things that resource you – for example, ‘being with friends’ or ‘time in nature’ – whatever it is. Then give yourself a score out of ten for each category, where ten is ‘maximum energy’ and zero is none. Do these scores reflect what you really want for your life? How could you make small adjustments to help you find the balance in your life that works better for you?

Resource yourself.
Now that you’ve reviewed the big picture of your working life, turn your attention to your habits of working each day. Many leaders and teams over the pandemic fell into habits of working which seem to have stuck; back-to-back online meetings, not taking good breaks, sitting at your desk each day. If that is something that you notice happening in your life and the pattern of work for your colleagues and teams, think about what you need in order to resource yourself each day. Look at your diary management, and give yourself the gift of spaces between meetings, moments to stretch if you’re at your desk all day, time for exercise or even to just think. Research into productivity tells us that variety can be a great resource, so try and make each day slightly different, and remember to schedule time to do the things that re-charge your batteries.

Reflect on the pace you set.

Many leaders I work with tell me that they work at a ‘crisis as usual’ pace – fast and frenetic – constantly having to respond to the sheer volume of work. The challenge with this of course, is that it puts us into re-active mode, and it ranks up the stress levels too. This summer, take some time to reflect on the pace that you and your teams are working in. If it’s about right – great. If not, how could you consciously change gear and give yourselves more time to plan, reflect, consider? It’s easy in today’s working environment to assume that things need to be quick and immediate. But the magnet pull of the ‘business as usual’ can come at the cost of more strategic planning. How could you make sure that you have a good balance of both, and what boundaries do you need to put in place to help you and your teams work at the pace that is more productive in the long term?

Role model saying no.
What do you role model as a leader? What you do is always as important as what you say. People watch you and will unconsciously mimic what you do. So how can you make sure that you role model keeping healthy boundaries, so that others get the message that it’s ok to do that too. How can you make sure that they see you ‘saying no for the bigger yes’ – and sharing the benefits of keeping good boundaries? Even talking about these things this summer can help you and your teams to consciously re-set and prepare for a more balanced, and ultimately more productive year ahead.

First published in Unleash.

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