As warmer weather nears, you might be wondering how you're going to stay productive over the often lazy days of summer. These three summer productivity tips may help you make the most of the season. These suggestions may help you feel more refreshed—and equip you with a plan to boost your business—when the cooler days of fall come around.
Take Advantage of Down Time to Restart Your Creative Juices
Do your best ideas come in the shower? That may be because you're feeling relaxed, which can stimulate fresh thinking. I’ve written some of my most popular blog posts when on vacation (even though I usually try to have a work-free break). But in a relaxed environment, I find I am really able to absorb the nuances of the experiences around me and am compelled to write them down and share them with my followers. Whether I was dropping kids off at summer camp, going to the ball park or relaxing in a spa, I found elements of each unique experience could apply to my business and those of my clients and students.
For example, while I haven’t been to summer camp in many years, I still enjoy the experience vicariously through my kids’ letters home and on visiting days. On one such visit a few summers ago, I was so inspired that I wrote an article called “Branding Lessons from Summer Camp” that was published in a major online magazine for women entrepreneurs. The branding lessons from summer camp included: the importance of rituals in brand building (inspired by campfire songs and other camp traditions); the blessing of plans gone astray (inspired by rainy days at camp where scheduled activities are cancelled and you actually have more fun); and how competition can actually build team spirit (inspired by the way that dividing a camp into teams for a three-day color war actually brings people together instead of separating them).
Go on a Local Brand Safari for New Ideas and to Boost Your Summer Productivity
Finding yourself in a strange city or town for vacation can sometimes be daunting. But it can also be exhilarating for your brand. Treat the adventure as a brand safari. Think about going to new retail locations, restaurants and museums with a notebook in hand, and observe how the locals connect to area brands. What businesses are rocking their customer service? What’s the best-kept local secret and why? Where do all the cool kids want to hang out?
In a brand safari, you may want to try to avoid national brands that you're familiar with and really seek out the local spots. Then once you have observed what’s making these brands sizzle, you may want to twist those insights with your own brand to come up with stronger, fresher ideas. Whether you are visiting the fountains of Rome or visiting friends in Topeka, getting out of your usual surroundings and acting like a brand tourist may have huge benefits when you get back home.
Even If You're Staying Home, Network With New People for New Ideas
Many small-business owners are funneling a lot of their funds into building their businesses, so there may not be a lot of cash left over for a getaway vacation. That’s ok. You can still use the relaxed time of summer to network. Many people think business stands still in the summer, but it's often a great time to go to local networking events. You may find that people are more relaxed and more inclined to linger at the event—especially if the weather is warm and the beer is cold.
Consider using this time to mix it up when it comes to networking. In my book TWIST: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands, I talk about the importance of "twisting" the types of people you interact with. We tend to network with like-minded people who speak our language and share our expertise and point of view. This can be important, but it may have a limited return on your investment of time. To shake things up, you may want to seek out others with a different point of view. Consider joining Meetups made up of people with different skill sets and experiences from your own.
For example, if you are a marketing executive, instead of only going to networking events for creative types, you may want to mix it up and attend some tech Meetups for web or app developers. This is especially important if technology is an area you are not comfortable with. You may meet some lovely digital natives who will give you advice, translations or resources on your key issues; they may also benefit from your business wisdom. You may even walk out with some ideas on how to pitch projects, work together or twist your skills for greater impact.
Summer can be a great time to get out and experience new things and bring new ideas to your business. Taking breaks and being open and attuned to new experiences and people can be a useful way to re-energize your mind and body—it may also help move your business forward. Try seeking out fresh new approaches on your downtime and see how it affects your summer productivity.
Julie Cottineau is founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy, and creator of Brand School Online, a premier learning program that teaches small-business owners, entrepreneurs and nonprofits how to breakthrough in crowded markets. Her new book is Twist: How Fresh Perspectives Build Breakthrough Brands.
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