Can you believe it’s already almost August? Where do these summer months go?
I love summer. It’s one of the many reasons I wanted to be my own boss. The idea of my kids hanging out at the pool with out me, or having fun in the summer sun while I was freezing in my corporate office made me so sad.
Thankfully life slows down for a couple of months during the summer. The kids don’t need to be shuttled from school to one activity after another, sort of. Client vacations lessen business demands. And life is just somehow better when you can leave the layers of clothes behind and slip on shoes instead of lace up boots. Ah, yes please.
Summer is supposed to be peaceful, easy. Right? Riiiiiight….
This year I’ve heard from more clients, and experienced myself, something I’m going to call the “Summer Slump” when it comes to our businesses. Let me explain…
It’s actually a little bit more difficult to be your own boss in the summer. The kids don’t have school and an overstuffed schedule, which means they’re home looking for something to do, watching neighbors and classmates with stay-at-home or seasonal working parents pack their cars to head to the beach.
But your work is still there no matter what the calendar says. And while the demands might not be as rigorous, you can’t exactly ignore them.
Even more so than during the rest of the year, you may feel pulled in different directions. And if you’re anything like me, you feel that internal pull to relax and take a step back. You want to go to the beach or drink margaritas on your neighbor’s deck. And you should – within reason.
I mean, let’s enjoy this time, right?! Let’s take advantage of the sun and the season. Summer is a great time to recharge – and we need it. Enjoy it, have fun, don’t be as rigorous. I mean, it only comes once a year, right?
But, you know what you have to look out for? Not getting so far off course that you shoot yourself in the foot. Labor Day comes faster than any of us want to think about. And if you don’t take the time during these slower, warm days to set yourself up for success in the Fall, you’ll find yourself facing a serious “Oh Sh*t” moment come September. (And I hate to point this out, but that’s only one month away…it’s coming.)
For me, the best way to avoid the summer slump is to plan ahead. It sounds like common sense, but that doesn’t mean everyone does it. A few minutes of planning can make all the difference. When the kids are going to need you? When do you need coverage to get your work done properly and efficiently? What emergency situations do you need to be prepared for?
A few of my clients have tag-teamed with other entrepreneurs for child care and business needs. One will take the other’s kids on Mondays and Wednesdays and the other handles Tuesdays and Thursdays and they all take Friday off. Others have split the days by morning and afternoon. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people makes a huge difference.
For those who can afford it, there are camps, of course, or the option to hire a babysitter to let the kids have some of that summer fun and freedom with someone who can take them to the pool or park or just go outside and play. And if you can go that route, make sure you put in enough down time for yourself so you don’t feel like summer just “slipped away”. Especially during this last month.
Another option we have is getting out of the house. It’s not always easy, but it’s really important to be productive. Go to Starbucks, a friend’s house or the library. If you want to go to the pool, go to the pool, but make sure you’re somewhere you have Wi-Fi and can get work done. My business finally took off when I decided to rent my office space. In the summer months, it’s even more vital.
For those looking for a little more help setting up the structure that will allow for summer freedom without failure in the Fall, I recommend “The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day And Control Your Life” by Craig Ballantyne. I love this book!
My two favorite takeaways from the book involve effective (ahem!) to do lists and surrounding yourself with the right people.
Write down your to do list either before you go to bed or right when you get up. Do it before you look at your phone, before you look at your email or start talking to your partner or kids about what they want to do that day. Allow yourself the luxury of a list that may not be as extensive or rigorous as it is other times of the year. That way you can allow for a little extra free time and fun, while making sure a little business gets done. Have a clear sense of your objectives and make sure you you’re committed to what you want. Doing this before the rest of the world starts fighting for your attention will make a huge difference.
Speaking of the rest of the world, you need support in the summer just like the rest of the year. Ballantyne uses the “crabs in a bucket” analogy in his “Perfect Day Forumula” book. It’s the perfect analogy…here goes:
Did you know that when crabs are in a bucket, you don’t have to put a lid on the bucket to keep them from escaping? Yep. It’s a true story. You know why?
Because if one crab tries to get out of the bucket, the others will reach up and pull it back down. Which begs the question: Are your friends crabs? And how the heck do you know if someone is a crab?
A crab is someone who leaves you feeling like doubtful about yourself or your ambition. Sometimes you can recognize a crab by how you feel when they leave the room. For example, you have a seemingly pleasant conversation with someone who leaves the room, and suddenly you feel like you’ve been “slimed”. You feel “off” or weird or like you’re dumb. That person is a crab.
Another way you can detect a crab is if you’re hesitant or scared to tell them your plans. You don’t want to share you plans or the ideas you’re excited about for fear they are going to pick them apart or tell you that you can’t do something.
The people who try to convince you to stay at the barbecue a little later or have one more drink before heading home aren’t necessarily crabs. They might mean well. If they’re otherwise supportive, don’t jettison them, just find that balance between one more drink and having fun and being able to accomplish what’s needed in your schedule for the next day. Remember you are in charge of your summer slump. or lack thereof.
It’s summer. Let yourself relax, recharge, feel the sand between your toes.
But remember: September is looming and, once it arrives, you’ll be so glad you didn’t let the summer slump win.
Go get ’em.