Posted by Dana Fink, Director of Staffing at Glenmont Group
When I reflect on the several business/self-improvement books I have read over time, Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People immediately come to mind as timeless and applicable in almost every business and personal scenario. Seeing as we just witnessed the Summer Solstice, staying effective and focused at work during the dog days of the pending months is critical to success. We can apply these seven principles to planning for vacations and the periodic slow downs in the work place during this time.
- Habit 1: Be Proactive
Take initiative to plan summer activities around family and client schedules. It might make sense to coordinate vacations with you companies’ and clients’ vacation schedules. Some industries will close for a period of time during the summer. If your most active client takes the third week in August, maybe it makes sense for you to do the same. Come to terms that this may not be your busiest quarter.
- Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Setting goals early on will help manage expectations. Space vacations sufficiently apart so there is enough time in between to be productive. Is this the best time to take a three-week vacation to Europe ? Maybe a few day trips on a Friday or Monday might be better use of time while still allowing for fun in the sun.
- Habit 3: Put First Things First
Prioritize, plan, and execute your week’s tasks based on importance rather than urgency. What activities need to be accomplished early in the week so there are still results by Friday? Are these activities the 5 sales calls that need to made face-to-face Monday through Thursday? Evaluate whether your efforts will move you toward your goals. Work first, then play. Identify the time wasters of summer and learn to avoid them. Organize. Delegate. Learn to say no. Maybe someone else can take the carpool for a week or cover your turn to blog!
- Habit 4: Think Win-Win
Genuinely strive for mutually beneficial solutions or agreements in your relationships. Maybe have your teenager walk a neighbor’s dog while they are away, and then your neighbors can water your lawn and take in the mail while you are on vacation. Both parties achieve their goals.
- Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
Know what your clients’ needs and concerns are during the summer months. Are they worried about an increased work load, possible merger, corporate reorg? Once you listen to their concerns, you then can explain your strategy to ensure good customer service delivery and contingency plans so as not to lose traction during this time.
- Habit 6: Synergize
Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork to achieve goals that could not have been done alone. Maybe have a public calendar in the office and a group meeting to share responsibilities across the team for the summer. Make follow-up calls for a coworker, include a trusted colleague on your “Out of Office”, screen mail for a long-awaited payment from an outstanding invoice for your boss. These can help the team across the board. A team office approach to summer coverage can lighten the load so everyone gets a chance for some stress-free time off.
- Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
Vacations allow us to balance and renew your resources, energy, and health to create a sustainable, long-term, effective lifestyle. Take some time over your vacation to focus on some aspect of self-improvement. Do something to improve your brain, heart and soul. Take on a volunteer project, walk a mile a day, take a guided museum tour. Sharpening your mind, body and spirit will provide you with a rejuvenated attitude.