For many of us, especially those who have kids, the next few weeks will be a mad scramble of clearing the in-tray, making sure deadlines have been met (or at the very least parked) and counting down the days to the summer holiday.
But if you’re working through July and August, the summer can actually be a great time to refocus and even position yourself for a future promotion or pay raise.
Here are six ways to turn the traditionally “dead” summer months to your advantage.
1. Step back
If your office is a sea of empty workstations, recognise no major decisions are likely to get made at this point.
However, rather than seeing this as an excuse to slack off, use the time to draw breath, evaluate how you’re doing, how you’re enjoying your job and whether you’re where you want to be in terms of your career or role progression.
It may even be a good idea to carry out an informal personal appraisal, including setting some SMART (specific, measurable, achievable realistic and timely) objectives.
2. Purge and sort out
As well as taking time to sort things out in your head, have a physical sort out.
More and more offices, of course, nowadays have clean desk policies, so this may not mean actually chucking away piles of old paper (though doing so is definitely a good idea).
But spending time de-cluttering your inbox, sorting out your diary and mapping out upcoming projects will really help you to hit the ground refreshed when things pick up again from the autumn.
De-cluttering in this context can also mean looking at your “personal brand”. Updating online or social media profiles, and looking at how you need to be approaching strategic, longer term elements of your role in order to have the most impact and make the best impression.
3. Offer to take on some projects
Given that a load of people are away, the summer months can be a great opportunity to take on extra projects that may, in turn, get your face, skills and attitude noticed and appreciated.
You do need to tread carefully, however. Taking on something that technically “belongs” to someone who is temporarily away is unlikely to win you many friends. And if the goal is to ensure your extra efforts are properly recognised it makes sense to check that whoever you want to impress is actually around.
It also needs to be a question of weighing up the longer term benefit of being seen as someone prepared to put in discretionary effort, and so worthy of future promotion or reward, versus the short-term effect on your workload or (just as importantly in this context) your ability to do the “day job” successfully.
4. Use the time to network (but don’t overdo it)
With less going on, the summer can be a great time to network. Because it’s warmer and lighter in the evenings, people may be more inclined to adjourn to the beer garden after work or at lunchtime.
People may also feel under less pressure and more inclined to chat at the coffee machine or water cooler. If there’s someone senior you specifically want to meet or sound out, doing it during a quieter month can also be sensible.
But don’t overdo it. Aggressive self-promotion at the expense of people who are absent can easily count against you when things return to “normal”.
5. Be happy to be there (or at least look like you are)
OK, the sun is streaming in and everyone else is having a great time on holiday. But if you’re stuck in the office for the duration, accept it and at the very least appear to be happy to be there. Acting grumpy or resentful will get you nowhere.
Be aware, too, that while many offices do accept a certain amount of dressing down over the summer, especially if temperatures are high, looking like you’d rather be in a taverna may send out the wrong signals in terms of your professionalism and ambition.
6. Recognise you’re playing a long game
At one level the short answer to the question of how to use the summer months to secure a promotion or pay rise is “ask for one”. And certainly, if you don’t ask or push yourself forward (however diplomatically) you’re less likely to get a promotion.
But in many organisations, these things work to a structured timetable, often based around the annual appraisal, which in turnjust doesn’t tend to happen during the summer. So recognise that by using the summer months in this way you’re playing a long game.
It may be about being noticed and appreciated in the hope of future gain or bargaining potential rather than necessarily any immediate benefit.
But don’t forget, when everyone else is back and grimly trying to get into the swing of things, you may still have your holiday to look forward to.