I took two weeks off this summer while our office closed. This was a work requirement, and it left me at home with a lot of extra time on my hands. According to a recent Finder survey, situations like mine are the reality for 53 percent of working Australians over the Christmas and New Year break. And it makes sense – after working so hard all year, why not switch gears and enjoy some much needed relaxation? Many Aussies spend their holiday time seeing family and friends, playing with their children, catching some rays at the beach, or going on a holiday.

But think about this – such a great surplus of extra time comes with a greater opportunity for us to be productive too, potentially doing things that will have a positive impact on our careers. So without questioning the absolute necessity of downtime and relaxation, I thought I’d pose this question: did you do anything during summer office close that benefited your career or business?

Seriously. That’s a real question; please comment and let me know.

In the meantime, I asked these two Australian business owners what they did during the summer break.

Case study #1

Stevie Dillon, Social Media Consultant – @steviesayssocial

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“I biz planned. And by biz planned, I mean that I literally mapped out my entire 2018 [with a business coach] from the first week of January to the last week of December. Every single month. Every single week. Every single task.

There’s a LOT there. But, my GOD I’m excited to watch it all roll out and become reality. And now I have the full plan IN DETAIL, I just have the do the damn work and make it all happen.  ALL the things are coming. ALL the things. 2017 was my best year yet.. but it’ll be NOTHING on 2018 if I can pull it all off.”

Case study #2

Natasha Margetic, Sales & Operations Manager, Nest Home Solutions

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“I manage a kitchen, bathroom, laundry and cabinetry business servicing wider Sydney. If it was up to my partner and I, we would never shut down around Christmas or New Year, but given the trades we work with are generally closed for the Chrissy/New Year gap, forced downtime becomes a thing…

For me that means some self-reflection on the previous 12 months highs and lows. We all get caught up in the hype that is Christmas, and the promises that New Years inevitably brings, but rarely do we give ourselves time to look back and see what we’ve achieved, struggled with, conquered, or failed. Doing so doesn’t just give me immense insight into who I am as a person, but it alters my posture for the seasons to come; I learn about my personal weaknesses, strengths, and what needs to be engaged in a challenging situation.

I think it’s a rare thing to make our inner self the project, but the benefits are far reaching. And at a time of year when family-time (and the personality clashes) is at it’s highest, a little self-reflection can go a long way.

Take the pressure off yourself to make a big change almost instantaneously, and instead enter your new commitments slowly, and with caution. Make your Christmas and New Year downtime into an opportunity for you to flourish and grow.

What did I do?

In addition to taking a week-long holiday in Perth, I mostly focused my energy on reading a book about the art of selling (don’t worry, I read it on the beach). Selling and persuasive communication are always going to be valuable life skills in industry or at home, and since being back in the office I’ve been amazed to discover just how much I benefited from this during my summer break.

What did you do over summer office closure? Comment and let me know.

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