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5 Tips to Make the Most of Summer Downtime

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As colleagues, clients, and supervisors head out on vacations and breaks, you might find yourself with more downtime in the office than expected. As tasks, projects, and assignments are completed and new ones may be slow to come by, it falls on ourselves to remain engaged and productive during the slow periods. It is hard to focus and stay focused during slow days, especially after you’ve completed your tasks and it’s too close to the weekend or a vacation to start something new.

So how can you spend your summer downtime wisely? Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years on how to stay focused during the dog days of summer when you might be the only one in the office.

Expand your professional knowledge. Take career-related training courses. Improve your soft skills. Catch up on industry’s newest trends. Read about the latest technologies. Talk to your colleagues or your network about what they’re doing. Attend virtual conferences or watch TED talks. Start tackling your professional summer reading list (check out these GovLoop reading list suggestions).

Catch up on your reading. Every office has that one colleague who sends really long non-urgent emails. The kind that you don’t read because there’s no time. Or maybe you collect subscriptions and articles that you file away for “later,” but you never get back around to it. Use the downtime to finally read these.

Tackle your rainy day list. We all have those things we’d like to get to when or if there’s time. Update some standard operating procedures. Dust off that proposal for addressing gaps in your company’s methodology. Write up or finalize some documentation on contingency plans for when you win the lottery. Don’t have a rainy day list? Now is a good time to make one.

Clean up. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a clean desk or office. Review your files, both paper and electronic (make sure you’re following good records management procedures, though!). Organize your desktop or your email. Return unnecessary books back to your corporate library or their owners. Test your pen and highlighter collection to find the empty ones. If you want to take it up a notch, bring in cleaning supplies to give your workspace a deep scrub. You could even ask your IT staff if they have cleaning supplies (or bring your own in) for the nooks and crannies of your computer.

Try something new. Summertime doldrums can be a good opportunity to volunteer for a new assignment. Whether it’s a detail to a different department in your agency or a task to cover for a colleague on vacation, a new assignment or a task is a good way to shake up your routine a little. Not only can you learn new skills or hone existing ones, you can also gain a new perspective that can change the way you approach your regular duties. This isn’t limited to what’s in your agency or your professional knowledge. It’s open to whatever you’re interested in!

Got any other tips? Share them in the comments and don't forget to take a look at this post for three more great tips!

Meganne Lemon is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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