During the summer, for many people, everything seems to slow down a bit.
Not only are people heading out for vacation and spending more time at home with kids and family, but many businesses experience a lull during summer that often means work-related goals ease up a little bit.
So what does that mean for your goals?
If you’re not as busy at work, or if you’ve slowed down a bit to match the relaxed pace of the warmer months, you might notice that your progress on your biggest goals falls to the side a little bit. And that’s okay!
But slowing down doesn’t mean you have to give up on being productive and making your life more amazing.
To do this month: a 30-day challenge
One of our favorite pages in the Ink + Volt planner is the 30 Day Challenge, because it allows for bite-size goal-setting with really concrete deadlines — plus, it helps you focus on building good habits, as opposed to tackling specific projects.
Good habits are what will truly change your life and make you more successful.
So why not change your life this summer? Why not spend the next 30 days developing a new skill or habit that will take you to the next level in your life or career?
There is no time like the present.
Need ideas? Here are 5 life-improving goals to set this summer
If you’re used to only tackling goals at work, it can be a little difficult to figure out what makes for a good, simple personal goal. Feeling stumped? Here are 5 ideas for 30-day summer challenges you can set for yourself to make life-improving progress this summer!
1. Organize your workspace
If you’re less busy than usual at work, this is a perfect opportunity to improve your work life now for when the busy months return.
How many times have you been swamped at work, feeling buried under stacks of paper? Or how about your outdated filing system that no one but you could ever understand? Now is the time to make a change!
This month, set a goal to get your desk in order. You can pick one goal per week. For example:
- Week 1: Deal with papers and clutter
- Week 2: Clean off surfaces
- Week 3: Return items from other people/areas to their original places
- Week 4: Freshen up your organizational systems
Each week, set aside a few minutes every day to make consistent progress. During Week 1, maybe you can process one pile of papers every day and either throw out or deal with everything in that pile. During Week 2, spend time each day doing things like wiping down your computer monitor and dusting out cubbies and corners of your workspace. And so on.
2. Try out meal planning
Tired of eating out or making the same meals over and over? Meal planning could be a game-changer for you!
Meal planning is just what it sounds like: planning out your meals for each week in advance. As part of your planning, you’ll pick a base for your meals each week, which is the one ingredient you’ll cook in bulk in advance, that you’ll mix and match with other ingredients throughout the week to keep it interesting.
First, pick a base for your meals every week; this is the thing you’re going to cook in bulk. It’s a good idea to make this a protein, like:
- Week 1: Chicken
- Week 2: Tofu
- Week 3: Tuna
- Week 4: Rice and beans
To make bulk prep even easier, use a tool like a slow cooker to cook your base over the weekend.
Each week, you’ll also list options for ingredients to mix and match with your protein. These can repeat throughout the week — for example, if you make spaghetti noodles, you can make three meals’ worth of noodles to use for a few different dinners — but the goal is to keep your base interesting.
Think about food groups as you’re planning: you’ll need a grain and a vegetable to go with every protein for a balanced meal.
Prep as much as you can in advance every week; peel and prep raw vegetables for cooking later in the week, make broths or sauces that can be stored, and pre-cook grains like noodles that can keep for a few days.
3. Invest in your team
If you’re a manager — or even if you just want to be seen as a leader on your team — your relationships with the people who work around you are critical to your success.
When was the last time you interacted with a teammate or employee outside of a work situation or other transaction?
Your goal this month could be to grow your relationships with your team, with a focus on adding value to each person that you interact with. You can start out my listing every person that you need to connect with; then plot out time to connect with each of them over the next 30 days.
Think about what would be meaningful to each person.
- Would a personal, one-on-one conversation make the biggest impact? List the people you want to take to coffee. (This is a great choice if you’re not sure what else to do, or if you don’t know someone well. Showing a personal interest in someone – in a friendly, non-creepy way – almost always makes the other person feel good.)
- Can you share something like a book or guide that will help someone? List the resources you have and who will best be served by them.
- Can you do a favor for someone? Is there an introduction you can make? List the people you know could benefit from a new connection and then spend time setting them up whenever possible.
If you add value to people, and make an effort to improve their lives, people will notice. Over time, if you do this consistently, people cannot help but think of you as someone that they want around and who they want to help too.
Now is a great time to get into the habit of building trust and good relationships with the people around you at work, so it will be easier to make part of your routine later.
4. Take control of your inbox
Are you one of those people with 10,000+ emails in your inbox? Yeah, it’s time to fix that.
This is also a great time to set up systems that will keep your inbox under control when things get busy again.
- Week 1 & 2: Process all emails currently in your inbox
- Week 3 & 4: Create systems to manage future emails
We’re allowing two weeks for each part of this project, since email can be a tough beast to tackle quickly (it never stops coming in!).
During Weeks 1 & 2, you’ll need to touch every email currently in your inbox. Reply to it if it needs a reply, archive it if it has information you’ll need later, and delete it if it is super old or not applicable. (If deleting makes you nervous, just archive everything.)
During Weeks 3 & 4, you’ll set up systems to keep from getting overwhelmed in the future.
- Create folders that you can put emails into, so they don’t just live in your inbox.
- Unsubscribe from lists you never open; if you don’t want to unsubscribe, you can create an inbox rule to send these emails directly to a specific folder so they skip your inbox.
- You can also apply small tools to make email processing more efficient; for example, if you use Gmail, opt to use the “send and archive” button instead of the just the “send” button. That way, emails go away once you’ve dealt with them, without needing an extra action.
5. Knock something(s) off your “someday” list
Have you been meaning to plan a dream vacation? Ben putting off finding a new apartment? Always wanted to hike a big trail in your area, but just never quite found the time to get there?
If you’ve got time now, start putting the wheels in motion!
Remember, this is just a 30-day challenge. You might not accomplish the entire goal.
But think about this: what if you spent one week this month figuring out where you want to go on your dream vacation. The next week, you look at your work schedule and block potential travel dates in the next year. The next week, you find accommodations you want to stay at and price airfare. The final week, you set up a budget/saving plan that will allow you to save exactly the amount you need (which you now know!) for this trip — so that one year from now, you are on the vacation of your dreams.
True, you won’t accomplish the goal of getting to your dream destination in 30 days, but you WILL have made it possible to get there. Which wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
Seems pretty worthwhile to me.