Summer is the slowest time of year for a lot of people, and August tends to be the slowest time of summer—or at least, it tends to feel like the slowest time. The weather’s at its hottest and muggiest and makes you want to just flop down by a body of water with a cold drink in your hand. Everyone’s trying to soak up the summer fun while they can and avoiding thinking about how fall is just around the corner (to say nothing of the new time management and productivity challenges that always come along with it).
On the work front: Summer Fridays are still in effect.
A lot of your clients and team members are probably out of the office for at least part of the month. You might have vacations or staycations planned for yourself this month. (I hope you do!) If you have school-age kids at home, August is the last chance to get in some quality family time before the school year starts.
For all these reasons, things tend to slow down for a lot of busy professionals this time of year. Which means it’s a great time to really lean into your downtime—without guilt.
That’s a challenge for so many business owners and entrepreneurs, I know. Disconnecting from work can feel especially difficult for consultants and other professionals who work on billable activities. Every hour that you take for yourself can feel like an hour that you “should” be using to serve clients or generating revenue. Letting go of your usual time management priorities and fully embracing your downtime can feel like you’re dropping the ball at work.
Sound familiar? If so, this year I want to challenge you to shift your perspective, let go of the guilt and really lean into your downtime, knowing that just because you’re not doing anything billable doesn’t mean you’re not using your time productively.
So—how are you going to make your downtime productive this August?
First, let me be clear about what I mean by “productive downtime.”
Making your downtime productive does not mean that you’re always moving and accomplishing tasks around your home or in other areas of your non-work life. Using your time productively doesn’t mean being constantly “busy.”
Instead, what if you were really intentional about using your downtime in ways that help you be the person you really want to be in the world? In ways that feel meaningful and important and are aligned with your long-term goals? Making your downtime productive is all about being strategic about how you use these limited minutes so you can feel rested, engaged and proud of yourself when it’s time to shift back into busy work mode.
Here are just a few examples of what productive downtime could look like for busy professionals this summer:
- Go for a long, lazy walk or bike ride and intentionally be curious about the environment your find yourself in.
- Look for continuing education opportunities related to topics or skills that truly intrigue you, rather than things you feel like you “should” learn.
- Sign up for volunteer work that feels meaningful to you, whether that means working shifts at the local food bank or volunteering your professional skills to help a nonprofit organization meet its goals.
- Try reading, listening or watching new kinds of content that you don’t usually have time for or might not be in your usual wheelhouse. You never know what kinds of new ideas might be sparked when you swap out your usual work-related podcasts for ones that cover obscure music or weird historical events or whatever else strikes a chord with you.
3 Steps to Set Yourself Up for Productive Downtime This Month
- Get really clear about when you can be truly “down” and when you need to dip back into work mode. I want you to be able to relax completely into downtime… but for you to be able to do that without guilt, you have to know just how much time you can afford to take to yourself. What do you know about your business cycle at this time of year? When are your clients going to be busy and needing your help this month, vs. when are things quiet enough that you can take a random weekday or long weekend off without leaving clients hanging?
- Use your time management strategies and weekly plans to carve out and protect your downtime. Remind yourself that your downtime can be just as valuable and meaningful as your work time and deserves to be protected. Build that time into your daily and weekly plans, just like you would carve out time for important meetings or other work tasks. Use your calendar to schedule blocks of time or entire days off for productive downtime without guilt, knowing that you’re using that time to move your life and your business forward.
- Identify a few key things you can do now to set yourself up for fall. Realistically, professionals and business owners can’t afford to not think ahead. Make a list of a few action steps that you can tackle this month that will make the transition into fall and Q4 as smooth as possible. Having a plan for next season allows you to stay present in this moment, knowing that you’re on top of whatever comes next.
Need More Support to Take Control of Time Management and Productivity?
Before another busy fall starts, now’s the perfect time to address the time management and productivity challenges that have kept you from moving your business forward. Join me on August 3rd for 3 Keys to Unlocking Productivity Secrets for Consultants. If you struggle to balance billable work, business development and your personal life (and there’s never enough time for any of them), this no-cost masterclass is for you! Click here for more information and to reserve your spot.
Enjoy your downtime!