How to improve security by slowing down for the summer

Summer is a good time to focus on doing less work, but with better focus, to improve security, says leadership columnist Michael Santarcangelo. (grinvalds/iStock via Getty Images)

The change of season from spring into summer conjures up lazy naps on porch swings, backyard barbecues, and maybe some trips to the amusement park. Perfect time to slow down — and even improve security.

Yet Aaron (not his real name) vented to me last week that for him, “Summer sucks. Everyone in my house is on vacation but me. My hours are excessively long.”

Another leader, John (not his real name), pointed out that, “We’re doing great work, but this pace is not sustainable.”

Security leaders remain under pressure to perform, even as we watch other people take breaks and enjoy the summer. We need a break, too.

Here’s a secret: we can improve security by slowing down for the summer.

Slowing down for the summer allows you to make more progress with a few adjustments. Instead of doing more work, do less — with better focus. Use summer as a forcing function to clarify priorities and align energy with the right tasks.

One option: change your work week

Some folks change their work week for the summer. Kris (not her real name) works an extra hour a day Monday through Thursday to leave early on Friday. Sometimes she works four 10-hour days to take Friday off and get a three-day weekend.

It amazed Kris how much more productive she was working fewer days. In candor, she’s also working fewer hours, since she spends the weekend completely away from work. When she comes back, she’s better rested and more focused.

I’ve seen some folks alternate working Monday to Thursday for the first week, with working Tuesday to Friday the second week, allowing them two four-day weekends a month.

Three keys to improve security while slowing down to recharge

Old schedule or new schedule, you need to do three things to make progress while recharging:

  1. Clarity on your top priority: not the top three, five, or whatever list you currently have. Pick ONE THING to advance and finish this summer. Focus on finishing before adding more.
  2. Break down your effort into small steps. Small steps add up and incremental effort in the right direction compounds. This allows you to make the most of the time you have and gives you an easy way to build momentum after a restful weekend.
  3. Show your work. Showing your work allows others to see what you’re working on, contribute when appropriate, and, ideally, recognize the value you deliver. Take away the mystery of what you’re doing and you’ll find people give you the space you need.

Why slowing down works

Slowing down has a natural limiting effect on what you focus on. Because you don’t have time for the balance, the distractions fade into the background. You need to solve the right problems to deliver value faster and get out.

It works when you consistently match your highest priority tasks to your most productive time.

Then let the balance go. New things get added to the backlog and you’ll deal with them when summer ends or when you have time. No need to handle them today.

Better focus leads to better results

Finishing key efforts each week — and showing your work — feels great.

It gets easier to break away and detach after getting stuff done. Plus, by breaking down the work into small steps, you know where and how to start when you get back. And the more rested and recharged, the better you do the following week.

It is a good time to acknowledge the good work you’re doing and slow down.

Enjoy the time with friends and family and take a well-deserved break. Maybe your summer of progress will set you up for a fantastic fall filled with productivity.

Michael Santarcangelo

Michael Santacangelo is the founder of SecurityCatalyst.com, author of Into the Breach, and creator of the leadership-driven Straight Talk Framework – with our favorite question, “What problem are you trying to solve?”

Get daily email updates

SC Media's daily must-read of the most current and pressing daily news

By clicking the Subscribe button below, you agree to SC Media Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.