For many of us, the beginning of summer means a slightly slower pace, fewer meetings, and an easier time finding a parking spot on campus. While it’s tempting to embrace the slower pace and dedicate time to your search for the end of the Internet, may I suggest a quick list of summer activities that will set you up for success come fall?

  1. Build relationships, on campus and off. Schedule coffees with your fellow communicators across campus. Plan welcome lunches with new faculty to assess their media experience and willingness to serve as subject matter experts. Visit with colleagues at nearby institutions to share new ideas and solutions to common challenges. Adapt Kristine Maloney’s winter advice for summer.
  1. Take a look back. Over the past year, what worked well? Compile analytics and data that capture your great work over the past year and share them with team members, colleagues and supervisors as appropriate. When considering what didn’t meet your expectations, identify how you’d do things differently and what kind of resources would have helped you meet your goals.
  1. Take a look forward. What challenges, milestones, and special events await in the year ahead, and what groundwork can you lay now? Spend some time researching, brainstorming, and establishing metrics for success.
  1. Do a policy and procedure review. We often don’t realize that policies and procedures are out-of-date until we need them. Pull out your crisis plans, social media policies, media access policies, Title IX policies and procedures, and anything else you haven’t looked at in a while. Give them a critical eye, ask for input from coworkers on campus, and seek out templates and best practices from colleagues on other campuses and your national associations.
  1. Plan a tabletop activity. After you’ve reviewed and updated your policies and procedures, invest time in a tabletop activity that will bring colleagues from across campus together to work through a hypothetical situation that could become a reality in the coming academic year.
  1. Make a reading list. In addition to a bunch of novels, I’ve got some communications and higher education related books on my list for the summer, including So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson, Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers, and The Gen Z Effect by Thomas Koulopoulos and Dan Keldsen.
  1. Plan your professional development for the coming year. Take time to seek out conferences, webinars, or courses that will supplement your skills and help build your competencies. Encourage your team members to do the same. I’ll be looking at programs offered by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, PRSA, and the Education Writers Association as well as webinars from Academic Impressions and organizations like the Association of Governing Boards.
  1. Unplug. Our jobs are demanding and the pace can be unrelenting. Take advantage of the (somewhat) quieter summer months to focus on you so that you’ll be fresh and recharged for the fall.

Let us know in the comments what you’ll be doing with your summer vacation to prepare for fall success.