Summer Daze: Three Ways to Clear Things Up

Ah, Summertime. Those lazy, hazy days spent poolside or on the beach, filled with picnics and bike rides, bar-b-ques and fireworks. Wait, sorry…that was a few decades ago when I was a kid. In other words, Before Work. We marked the first day of Summer 2019 recently and it got me thinking that I always expect  Summer to signal a vacation vibe at work, too, but then…it doesn’t. In fact, June can be extremely busy. For one, it signals the end of 2Q and all that “half the year is over” implies. Second, lots of folks are trying to get projects completed before they go on vacation. In the case of many of our Global colleagues that can mean the entire month of August out of office. (What a divine concept!) Lastly, if you’re in a service industry, the summer months can spell the difference between a great year and a terrible one.

I used to spend far too many work hours lamenting the fact that I could not be outside enjoying the blue skies and sunshine. Not only would my emotional and mental health suffer but so would my work productivity. But when the weather is lovely and there were so many external distractions, how can you keep Summer Days from turning into Summer Daze? Here are three things that work for me.

 As with every other aspect of work, having a plan is always a good place to start. Beginning in mid-May, my work schedule allows me to take half-Day Fridays so I work a bit longer during the week but have a longer weekend. I rely on my paper planner and calendar to get a bird’s eye view of what I will do with that revised schedule. I’m crazy for colorful gel pens, highlighters and even stickers when mapping out my time. I fill in big project deliverables, time out of office and other special event reminders. #2 

 I come up with  one or two goals that will help me, in the words of Stephen R. Covey, “Sharpen the Saw.” That means adding to my skill set, either physically, mentally, socially or spiritually. For instance, this year I’m taking an online film writing course because I have an interest in all manner of storytelling. I’m also mentoring a teenager in foster care because I want to step up my volunteer work. 

 Finally, I try to add a couple “Summertime fun goals” like spending at least 2 hours outside every weekday, reading as many non-work-related books as I can, and adding a couple new grilling menus to my repertoire. 

Do I still long for the days of my youth when summertime meant 3 months of do-whatever-you-please? Of course. But since that isn’t an option, I make the most of every day and when  September comes—all too quickly—I’ll have a list of accomplishments that makes me jump into Fall instead of dragging my feet and wishing Summer would never end.

How about you? How do you keep the Daze out of your Summer?


I bought a new piece of art for my office recently.  Something about the colors in the canvas caught my eye and I liked how it looked against the black accent wall where I hung it.  I snapped a photo and sent it to my best friend Andrea, a professional organizer and the owner of Smartly Organized, LLC. Needless to say, she has a great eye, so I especially value her feedback.  Her reply: “No wonder you like this so much, Kel. The oars are like your employees—pointed in the same direction, but each one unique.”

Wow–what a cool perspective.  And it’s true. I have a small team of individual contributors with diverse backgrounds, and that diversity helps us to create terrific work for our clients. Each member of the team makes a unique contribution, using her skills and experiences to help deliver on a common goal. Without a doubt, if we all had the exact same educational backgrounds and career paths, it would be much more difficult to bring different perspectives to a creative or strategy session. However, with a teacher, a production expert, a copywriter, a salesperson, a marketer, a creative director, and project manager around the table, we’re able to build on each other’s ideas and fuel innovative discussions in a more productive way.

The power of diversity doesn’t end with the team. We also strive to understand the diversity of those on the receiving end of the internal communications we develop.  Rarely are the organizations we work for homogeneous; they too are diverse in their roles, experience and demographics.

For instance, we were recently challenged with creating a strategic engagement plan for a large team that includes employees from multiple vendors and partners.  Team members have varied tenure and come from many different company cultures. Complicating things further is the fact that co-employment arrangements, parent organizations, and regulations prevent certain kinds of information from being shared with everyone.  

Building an inclusive set of communications for this group was certainly a tall order. But we started by focusing on each person’s unique perspective and the ways in which they help the team to achieve its shared objectives. The more we learned, the easier it was to create compelling messaging and engagements to connect them to one other and their shared goals.  As well, we were able to design communications that helped other parts of the organization to understand what this larger team did and how they contributed to the overall goals of the company. We were able to show that team members were, “pointed in the same direction, but each one unique.” You can bet that I’ll be looking up at my new canvas a lot as we help this client.How do you do to tap into the diversity of your employees?