Summertime is my favorite time of the year. For one thing I don't work! The majority of the summer I'm at the lake in Wisconsin, dreaming and scheming. Some might call that work -- that is, thinking about work when you're not there. But to me those precious few months when I mostly stay away from the office (and even better yet the airports) are the most productive part of my year on a number of fronts:
Family: With two young boys and a wife who have to put up with my hectic schedule the rest of the year, I get a chance to be at home all day and night, which goes a long way for family unity. The old Cat's in the Cradle thing is ever on my mind, and the rewards of spending time with my family when the kids aren't in school are immeasurable.
Books: I'm notorious for getting a book, starting it, and then getting another before I've finished the first. In any given week, two or three new books hit my desk and all of them come highly recommended. By the end of the summer, I could be a walking, talking encyclopedia of the latest business topics, all because I'd finally taken the time to catch up with my library and actually finish the books I've started.
Vision: Is it not true that the best business ideas occur when your nose isn't against the grindstone?! Many people find their vision comes when they're in the shower; for me it's on the pier, pen in hand, that I think the most clearly. The running joke when I do pop my head back in the office is, "Oh no, The Pond Guy's back from vacation! Watch out!" And it's true, the majority of my ideas come when I'm not in the office.
Me Time: You know how easy it is to get fat when you're on the road doing client dinners every night and flying to another city the next day?! I'm not making excuses, but it sure is easier when you're home to roll out of bed and use your own weights instead of some Nautilus machine in a converted hotel room. And with my dog always ready to go for a run, I drop a good 10 to 15 pounds and love every minute of it.
Knowing how productive my time away from the office is for me, I felt organizationally we could benefit if more people invested more time to work on the business outside of our four walls. I even offered to spring for anyone, from managers to customer service personnel, to get a "cabin in the woods" on the company's dime to do just that. But alas, I only had a few takers. The grind of daily duties and life -- along with a realistic fear that I would look for big things from them upon their return -- kept this concept from every taking off organizationally.
I'm still a staunch believer that clearing one's head and stepping back periodically changes one's view while re-charging not only your own batteries but those of the ones you love as well. For me that means summer. And summer can be the best business and personal investment you make. If you drop a few unwanted pounds in the process, it can be even better!