I’ve been in a lull the past couple of weeks. They happen sometimes. I used to despise lulls; they made me nervous. You see, being self-employed, I figured if I wasn’t continuously swamped-busy working 16 hours a day on 20 different projects, then my business was doomed to failure. And if the dreaded lull hit – you know, that point in time when you’re finishing up these projects and waiting to start these other ones – then I felt panicked – like I was missing something, or like business was drying up. Do you ever get that feeling?
The lull usually happens for me around this time of year. My classroom teaching at the college has wrapped up, and I have a break for a couple of weeks while my online courses refresh for the summer session. Typically the client projects we started late last year are finishing their cycle, wrapping up or transitioning to the next phase. All in all, things get a bit quieter for a couple of weeks.
Nowadays, rather than panic about the lull, I appreciate and embrace it. I look at the lull as an opportunity, a gift. In fact, the lull can be an extremely productive and satisfying time. Here are a few things you can do with the lull:
I’m not just talking about cleaning your physical office or desk. That should be done too, but for most of us, that’s an afternoon project. I’m talking about doing a cleanup of your systems and processes. Start with your email inbox, because that’s where so many of us get hung up. Clear out the old messages, file what you need to keep and deal with anything that needs to be dealt with. Then move onto your computer files. Go through your folders and archive any items you don’t need cluttering up your dropbox or portable hard drive. Make sure your filing system is working for you, and re-organize files and folders as needed. Meet with your team and review some of your collaborative tools and processes – what’s working? What’s not working? Figure out how you can improve communication and collaboration (Hint: there’s always room for improvement here). Using the lull to get on top of your systems again will only serve to benefit you when the day to day picks up to full speed again.
One of the best features of the lull is that the phone will not ring as often, and the email inbox will not fill up quite as quickly. The lack of these common distractions leaves you more quiet time during the day….time that can be used for any number of inward-focused things. It’s often a great time to form a new habit, such as planning more healthy meals or getting daily exercise. It’s time for you to be able to sit, and reflect on your career, your business, your personal life, and the balance of these things. It’s the time for you to get your head on straight and make important decisions you’ve been putting off. It’s time for YOU. Take advantage of this time – it is fleeting. Before you know it, you’ll be back to the mayhem and your focus will be forced to shift.
Do it NOW!
You know all those things you never have the time to do when you’re crazy busy? Well, no time like the lull to work on getting some of those things done! Remember the blog you have been neglecting? (Guilty!!) How about the book outline you’ve been dreaming about working on? That writing for the Web course you’ve been meaning to take? With the lull comes the time to actually work on some of those things you’ve been putting off. And the cool thing about getting started on something is, once you’ve got the momentum, you won’t be able to stop, even when things pick up again!
Plot, Plan and Do
Of course, the lull is the perfect time to do some planning. Review the goals you set at the beginning of the year, and make necessary adjustments. Figure out what you’ve achieved and what you have left to do. Is there a phone call you can make, or an email you can send today that will get you a step closer to your goals? Now is the time to figure out what work you can do, and then actually get going on doing it. The lull is the perfect place to get some real planning done. After all, you don’t want to the lull to last too long – so use this time to determine where you want to get to, and then take action that will get you closer!
My lulls are actually some of my most productive time now. I find it a time of rejuvenation and focus. And it makes me stronger and better prepared to face things once the lull ends and I am back at full steam ahead.
How do you make use of your lulls?
[photo credit: Daniel*1977 on Flickr]