Summertime is less busy for some public sector workers. While you might initially have the inclination to sit back and relax, you should use the summer lull to prepare for when work picks up again.
Here are seven strategies to get ahead:
1 – Cut back email.
A 2012 study found that 70 percent of work emails were attended to within six seconds of their arrival. But what happens to the other 30 percent? Our work email boxes quickly fill up with junk, and soon you see unread messages in the thousands.
If you are uncomfortable with the growing number of unread notifications, take action. Use this summer to aim for Inbox Zero.
Email is a source of stress for many. Another study revealed that being cut off from using email significantly reduced stress levels, so reduce the clutter within your inbox.
2 – Clean up files.
When you work in haste, you often drag and drop documents without any order. Use the time to organize computer files. Create folders, delete old files, and clean up your desktop!
3 – Think about distractions.
Take a pause to identify common distractions you meet on a daily basis and optimize your workspace to avoid them. Reduce workspace clutter and purchase noise-canceling items so during your busy times you will not be subject to daily distractions.
4 – Take time for exercise.
Exercise is one of the first things we cut out with a busy schedule. What if you could fit it in during a workday? Studies reveal that if you schedule exercise just as you would a one-on-one meeting with your boss, you are more likely to succeed. If you are not a morning person or have familial obligations after work, your workout plans fall by the wayside. So use a work lull to step out of the office to go on a run, try out class that’s usually booked after work, walk around your workplace a few times, or do a yoga class.
5 – Take a vacation.
Nothing is more stressful than being on a vacation and seeing a growing inbox, a growing list of seemingly endless with work demands. With that being said, think about using summer and slower work times to take a family vacation. Being out of office during a lull can help you unplug during vacation so you don’t experience F.O.M.O. – Fear of Missing Out.
6 – Reflect.
When we are busy, we tend to focus on the present or immediate future. When you have a little time to spare, take a few minutes to reflect on tasks, projects, or milestones completed between a three-, six-, and nine-month span. Reflection is closely linked to the concept of learning from experience, in that you think about what you did, and what happened, and decide from that what you would do differently next time.
7 – Find efficiencies.
Another downside of being overly busy at work is that it is very difficult to find time to assess and improve your work. Use a slowdown to streamline your operations and evaluate your processes.
Examine your daily practices and find out where you can add value.