I know, I know. Summer is a time for relaxing, for heading out at 5 PM sharp to enjoy a rooftop happy hour, for taking it a little, well, easy.
I’m with you: Everyone needs a little down time, and summer’s the perfect time to take it. But, the lazy days of June, July, and August are also a great time to knock out a few of those activities you never seem to find time for the rest of the year.
So, this season, check these five career-related to-dos off your list. (But don’t worry, they’re all easy—and fun.)
1. Do Some Summer Reading
Remember that book your boss put on your desk in February—that you just haven’t gotten around to yet? Or the 10 pages about Designing Your Life you read before the new season of your favorite Netflix binge started? Yeah.
But since you’re lounging by the pool anyway, add a bit of productivity the mix by picking up (or picking back up) one or two career-related books you’ve been meaning to check out. Need some inspiration? Check out this list of the 21 Books That’ll Get You Ahead at Work.
2. Throw a Party
OK, by party, I mean networking event—but hear me out: Everyone’s in the mood for potlucks, BBQs, and happy hours all summer, so why not host one with a job-related focus?
Have a few friends pick up the same book you’re reading, then discuss over white wine on your patio. Or, grab three friends in your industry, ask them to each invite three others, and have a get-to-know-you happy hour after work.
You’ll make nine new connections with next to no effort! Alternatively, you could invite your department over to your place for an office BBQ—it’s a fun, easy way to get to know your employees or team members better.
3. Take Long Lunch Meetings
When summer hours or more relaxed workdays roll around, all you want to do is take long lunches on a patio, right? So, do it! But, take advantage of this time and challenge yourself to set up lunch dates with one to two professional contacts each month. If you’re looking for a new gig, pick people who work for the companies you love. (This template is perfect if it’s a cold ask to a stranger.)
Want to score that promotion? Choose people you’ve worked with before or who are higher up in your industry who can give you insight into what it takes to get to the next level. Or, take a co-worker you’ve been wanting to get to know better or one of the interns who might benefit from your expertise (he or she will appreciate the out-of-office time, too).
4. Make a List of Your Dream Companies
Unless you’re planning to stay at your company until you retire, it’s always a good idea to have a running list of organizations you’d be thrilled to work for on hand. So, spend some time on a lazy afternoon (when you don’t want to be doing anything else) browsing the web for workplaces in your area or field.
What companies do the kind of work you’d love to do? Which have awesome clients or fantastic perks? What places do you hear about over and over as being great places to work? You can follow your favorite companies on social media or LinkedIn, pin photos from their websites to Pinterest, or—of course—favorite them on The Muse.
Then, next time you’re job-hunting—whether it’s in September or three years from now, you’ll have a great starting place.
Here’s the easiest, most fun one of all: Treat yourself to a couple hours on a beach, on your roof deck, or in a hammock. Get comfortable, relax, and then allow yourself to just daydream about where your career might take you—two, five, even 10 years from now. Don’t focus on what’s possible or what you might have to do to get there—just allow your mind to wander and dream about the stuff that you probably don’t get to in your day-to-day life.
Do you want to be in a more creative role? Head up a new product or your department? Have a job that lets you travel? Start your own business? If you’d rather, you can jot down your thoughts in a notebook or share them with a friend. Have something awesome in mind? Great. Now, think of just one thing you can do that’ll help you get there.
But don’t worry—you can save that task for the fall.