What Can You Do With a Worthless August?

Outside it’s warm, but muggy, sunny, but hazy and beautiful, but buggy. It’s summer in all its glory, but let’s face it, August is tough. It creates tension while promising relaxation. Even those of us lucky enough to go on vacation can’t escape feeling a little anxious. It’s like we’re 13 again and know school is just around the corner.  

In this month, people can behave rashly—even erratically. As slow as August can be, one should never underestimate it. The eighth month is notorious for market swings, changes in work roles and responsibilities, vendor shifts, territory grabs and relationship changes.  

Big industry and life-changing things can happen that are anything but relaxing. What is it about this month? Is it boredom? The secret revenge of those who didn’t go on vacation? Or is validation of something bigger? Like, just maybe, August isn’t so worthless after all. Perhaps this sleeper month is really the only month when some of the most important work can take place. 

August is a time warp.

With the abundance of downtime, slower pace and break in routine it provides, August is the time when the focus can shift from executing on plans to questioning their very existence. It’s a unique opportunity. The weeks preceding Labor Day are when the mind is free to meander around the big picture, make hay over details, mull over the mild nags we’re too busy for during the rest of the year, and most importantly, muse about solutions—both creative and clairvoyant.  

With the right attitude and reasonable expectations, the dog days can become a business’s best friend. Making the most of the opportunity can take many forms—from habit improvements and random acts of mentorship to major rebrandings, restructurings and website redesigns. August gives us plenty to be optimistic about, and everyone should have an initiative. Here are a few of the ways to make the most of the great indoors during this month: 

Grow your resources. You need a stable of outside partners, vendors and service providers in case something happens to your mainstay. Everyone does—and it’s on your list. Schedule time to chat with writers, designers, programmers or SEO folks you’ve been meaning to talk to. Doing it now beats doing it when your need is urgent and you’re in a panic.

Expand your mind. It’s so easy to educate these days. Binge on company webinars—live or library. You’re constantly receiving invitations; maybe accept one for a change. Or consider taking self-paced courses through educators like Udemy. They offer bite-sized courses on online topics like HubSpot basics, copywriting or digital marketing. Alternatively, you could take a more committed route through American Management Association (AMA) seminars or bolster your technical skills through General Assembly classes.  

Find your silver bullet book. A company I work with did this last year to great success. We all read Play Bigger and, manic on the message, set about putting the insights in action. I think this is an ideal August activity for companies; you pick a hot business book, have everyone read it and then take a day to workshop it as a group.  

Throw down a killer content calendar. I love this one. Imagine how empowering it would be to have a year’s worth of blog, blast and newsletter topics strategized and scheduled in advance? Think about how great it would be to plan your white papers well in advance: It would give you more time to thoughtfully and creatively produce them. It would also enable you to devote more energy to promoting them and leveraging white paper content for other uses, giving you more mileage for your investment. And why stop with the planning? Get writing and you’ll really be ahead of the game.

Systems review and overhaul. Like every basement, glovebox or utility drawer—you have systems and processes that need a good look-through. You know the ones: your traffic board and your flow for content, social and sales. There’s no other time in the year that you’ll be able to devote the time and attention to these things that they deserve. I know it’s about as unsexy as cleaning the garage—but damn, you’ll be glad when you do it. Ahh economy and efficiency—bracing as a dip in a cool mountain stream on a hot day.  

Your website. Need I say more? Well, yeah, maybe I do. A complete overhaul is probably out of the question without some serious planning; however, a dispassionate audit and thorough Internet walkabout to see “what people are doing out there” is well within the bounds of August. A great site starts by asking “what if?” Use the downtime to get the ball rolling and create a report that shows your CFO you’re serious.

Make someone’s else’s summer Part I: Everyone has time to do somethingsignificant in August—like mentoring someone, whether formally or informally. That could mean giving someone a chance to help on a project, having lunch with an intern or just teaching someone something. It could mean a lot of things. Essentially, August gives you a chance to “take the time” when ordinarily you wouldn’t have the time. Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot to make the difference in someone else’s life or career that changes everything. 

Make someone else’s summer, Part II: Organize a volunteer event for the company or department or division. Take your team to make kits for a homeless outreach organization for an afternoon. Or sign your company or department up to do a Habitat build. Summer’s a great time for this. With the slower pace, the experience can sink in a little deeper and kinship can take root. 

August is always a crazy growing season. Use these ideas to take advantage of it! And please share your killer plans, progress and perspectives on TMSA’s Facebook group. After all, there’s nothing better than a little peer pressure when it comes to blasting through the summertime blahs.

By Conrad Winter, a freelance copywriter specializing in content and copywriting for transportation and logistics. Based in Metuchen, NJ, he writes white papers, case studies, website copy, and blog posts for carriers, 3PLs and industry associations. 

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