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6 Ways You Can Up Your Game Before Summer Ends

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Kids are home from school, everyone seems to be on vacation, and before you know it, the pace of everything grinds to a halt—which makes summer a great season to launch new projects, learn new skills, and check nagging tasks off your list.

Except for the fact that you slow down for the summer, too. And now it’s the end of July, just past that halfway point. So was the whole thing a bust? It doesn’t have to be. There’s still plenty of time to rack up accomplishments that you can carry over into fall, when you’ll likely start to feel that kick in the pants to get going (no matter how long you’ve been out of school, September always feels like a new beginning, right?).

Whether you’re looking to start a new job in tech or keep building the one you already have, here are a few things you still have plenty of time to tackle before summer ends.

1. Learn One Programming Language

Programming languages are vital to a well-rounded tech skill set, so whether you’ve been mulling over which languages to learn first or which languages to learn next, go ahead and pick one language, and then devote these last weeks of summer to spending as much time with it as you can. You’ll be surprised by the progress you can make in a month, especially when you allow yourself to have one focus.

If you’re brand-new to tech and coding, you might want to zero in on HTML, the standard language used to create web pages. If you already know the basics of web development, then leap into a language like JavaScript or Ruby to expand and strengthen your skill set.

2. Focus on a Single Project

With so much on the to-do list and so little time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and wind up getting nothing done. A surefire way around this trap is to pick one project and work on it for the rest of the summer. By committing to a single project you’ll avoid the paralysis-by-analysis that can happen when wondering where to go next with your tech skills. And being able to really tune in to a new skill as you are learning it will also help you understand the most efficient ways it can be integrated into projects.

Your end-of-summer project can be as simple as building a one-page personal website or retooling a site that already exists—just make sure it’s something you’re genuinely interested in and can confidently complete in a month. This way, you’ll get to apply and test your skills with a real-world project and come away from it feeling accomplished.

3. Update Your Resume

How’s your resume looking? Is everything current—and have you made sure you’re marketing yourself as professionally as you can to future employers? Updating your resume is easy to overlook when more high-profile goals, commitments, and deadlines are looming, but a polished resume is vital to jump-starting your career. (Check out these stunning, free resume templates.) If you’re not presenting yourself to the best of your abilities, who’s going to notice what you can do?

An easy way to jump back in is by updating your LinkedIn profile and then putting together a personalized resume that you can share digitally or in print. Resume work can take a bit more time than you might think, which is part of the reason it gets put on the back burner. A good strategy for knocking out a clean, focused edit of your skills is to filter each bullet point of past responsibilities through your future goals. For example, let’s say you want to move into a more managerial position. Did you coordinate among multiple colleagues for a project that you presented to higher-ups? You’d better make sure that resume says you “led an interdisciplinary team.” After all, you were in charge, boss.

4. Organize Your Professional Life

Staying organized is crucial in monitoring your work and meeting deadlines. This includes physical organization of your work space, calendar organization of your schedule, and even emotional organization of your personal boundaries and work-life balance, particularly if you freelance or work remotely. Having systems in place to keep these different spheres running efficiently will do wonders for your productivity—and sanity.

Consider devoting the end of the summer to nailing down your own systems for organization. Take a look at some of the great, free productivity apps out there and add a few to your toolkit. If you work remotely, go ahead and set up that home office you’ve been meaning to get around to. You’ll find it’s a lot easier to work at a dedicated desk with the tools you need versus trying to balance a laptop on a TV tray with your work supplies scattered in other rooms. Consolidate your calendars and put all your contacts in one easy-to-find spot. There’s nothing worse than knowing you have deadlines or meetings coming up, but not being able to keep track of them. And don’t forget to establish a work schedule and routine that you can realistically follow, one that gives you the structure to be successful and the space to own your personal life. Spend the next few weeks putting these systems into practice, and by September they’ll be a permanent part of your work routine.

5. Get Moving

Tech’s flexibility is a huge part of the industry’s appeal—particularly the opportunities to work remotely or in other ways that buck the outmoded 9-to-5 model. Still, it’s work that involves sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time (which, according to this article in Scientific American, can double your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems), so it carries the same health risks that threaten traditional office workers.

Creating a self-care routine that includes physical activity isn’t an optional task you can get away with addressing “one of these days.” Make this the month when you start scheduling dedicated breaks for moving and stretching every two hours. Begin taking walks or jogs at the same time every day, even if you can spare just 10 minutes. Use the gym membership that’s been collecting dust, and try to keep it up till September. Once movement becomes an embedded part of your work schedule, you won’t even have to think about it anymore, and the long-term benefits are right up there with any hard tech skills you’ll learn.

6. Assemble Your Own Toolkit

Tech professionals often say that resourcefulness is as important to a tech career as any specific tech skill. Your ability to seek out useful examples of code or to come up with the right tool to get a job done are the keys to your success. Fortunately, there are tons of resources out there to help you with just about every aspect of tech work, and a lot of them are free.

Even if you know about resources that will make your life easier, you might not be putting them to use. Identify some areas where tools and resources will come in handy, search out what exactly those resources might be, and start integrating them into your daily work tasks. If you’ll be working with JavaScript, start familiarizing yourself with libraries like jQuery, a free collection of JavaScript plugins and extensions that can help you streamline common tasks. If you’ll be writing a lot of code, try branching out with a text editor like Atom, designed specifically for coding. If you’re looking to connect to other coders and share tips and information, join a community site like Stack Overflow. It’s not a giant time investment to put together a reliable toolkit of resources, and that investment will pay off in confidence and productivity down the road.

Now that you’ve laid important groundwork, are you ready to build the career of your dreams? And while you’re at it, why not reap one of tech’s biggest benefits: a job you can do from anywhere. Download the free Ultimate Guide to Getting a Remote Job You Love. You’ll learn more about steps you can take TODAY to get ready for the remote job market, and you’ll get a step-by-step plan for learning the digital skills you need in order to land high-paying remote work.

getting Remote Job

The Ultimate Guide to Landing A Remote Job You Love

Say goodbye to the 9-to-5. Learn the steps you can take TODAY to get a remote job.

Scott Morris

Scott Morris is Skillcrush's staff writer and content producer. Like all the members of Skillcrush's team, he works remotely (in his case from Napa, CA). He believes that content that's worth reading (and that your audience can find!) creates brands that people follow. He's experienced writing on topics including jobs and technology, digital marketing, career pivots, gender equity, parenting, and popular culture. Before starting his career as a writer and content marketer, he spent 10 years as a full-time parent to his daughters Veronica and Athena.