Friends, summer is a hard time to stay motivated. If your arts season is Fall through Spring, you normally want to take a 3-month nap during the summer months, preferably on a beach with a cool drink in your hand. But the summer is KEY time to plan for your upcoming season. So much work can get done when you don’t have shows/performances/exhibits/artists taking up all of your time. So here’s how I stay motivated during the summer months to stay on task and hit the new season running.
1) Plan your Projects
As a marketer, I have a million projects to work on during our off months; media plans and buying, direct mail campaign plan, season material design and printing, website updates, PR plans, and so much more. I keep a big white board in my office with the list of major projects. That way, it’s right there big and bold in front of me every day. If I find myself drifting off, I can take a look at what hasn’t been done yet and gets me in gear! Then I try to tackle one major project a week. If I can put all my energy into one project at a time, it keeps me a lot more focused than doing little bits of each of them per week.
2) Map out the Season
I keep a very detailed (printed) calendar of my entire season of deadlines, like when I need brochure copy, when things go to proofing phase, when things go to print, when pieces need to drop, when ads are due, etc. The pre-planning of all of these materials is critical to being able to get anything done in a timely manner. It helps keep my work organized. While I realize so many people are going digital, I still prefer the large At-A-Glance monthly calendar that I can write all of these dates in (with pencil). It gives me a big picture and allows me to tweak my plans if I see three different projects dropping in the mail at the same time, for instance. It is seriously my bible and I’d be lost without it!
3) Collaborate with co-workers
Being on a small staff, we interact and collaborate on so many different projects during the season that the summer is a perfect time to sit down together and make plans well in advance. This is especially important for special events and add-on events surrounding concerts. By actually having time to talk projects out together and brainstorm, our energies can be combined and enthusiasm can be more infectious during the slower summer months than during the chaos of the season. Schedule a getaway retreat, even if it’s someone’s living room with snacks and soda, just to get out of the office. And if this collaboration includes an after work drink at a patio Happy Hour, so much the better!
4) Get Up to Speed
Summer is also a great time to get up to speed on something you don’t have time to spend on during the regular season. My summer ‘get up to speed’ project is learning Google Analytics better. Yours might be to learn how to better create and run reports, how to use Adobe InDesign, how to become a better writer, doing a website overhaul. Take those classes or online tutorials. Schedule them into your day so they don’t continue to get delayed.
5) Breathe, and take a break
Most of us on our staff take vacation or days off immediately following the season or fiscal year. We need it. We’ve just accomplished monumental work during the season, and we all deserve a break. So even if you think you need to get right to the grind, take a few days to enjoy yourself, drive to that beach, or take that hike through the woods. Fresh air and downtime is essential to get your brain fired back up after a long season. Even when you’re back in the office, take a break and walk around the block, soak up the sunshine and vitamin D. Or convince your boss to have summer hours and close the office an hour earlier than normal. It does wonders for the soul.
I would love to hear other great ways to stay on task during the summer!