The Hill Life: How We Recess

Now that the debt ceiling debacle is finally finished, it’s time for recess.  August recess is a rare break from the hectic Hill life.  A time when office close at 5:00PM, when suits can stay in the closet and lunches can be eaten in restaurants instead of in cubicles.  In short, it’s bliss.

While many Hill staffers will be using this month free from votes to take vacations and travel for work, those of us who will be staying here can use this downtime productively.  Otherwise, by the end of the recess, the minutes will start to feel like days.  Here are some ways to make the most of your August recess professionally and personally.

Learning Annex.  Working on policy, there are always new issues to learn about.  But it can be tough to find the time during session to read CRS reports or meet with subject-matter experts.  

During the recess, schedule meetings with Administration officials, think tank employees and others who can teach you the inner-workings of Social Security, special education, international trade agreements and other policy issues.  Basically, you should figure out what issues are going to be debated before the holidays and use this time to learn about them.

Diet and Exercise.  August recess is a time for new routines.  Want to start working out?  Get in the habit of going during recess.  I recommend going before work, since once we’re back in session, it’s easier to find time in the mornings than after work.  And if you haven’t tried the House gym, maybe this would be a good time to take a tour.

Looking to change your eating habits? Go looking for healthier options or start packing a lunch.  Once you get into the habit it will be easier to stick with it.  

Sponsor, Rinse, Repeat.  Recess is a good time to catch up on what legislation is out there for your Boss to sponsor.  Often, bills are introduced without much fanfare.  So visit the websites of groups your Boss supports and check in on their priorities.  See what your Boss’s close colleagues have introduced, maybe there’s something good there.  And take the time to meet with Committee staff to find out more about what bills might come up in the next few months.

Three-Day Weekends.  If you’re not planning to take any long vacations, it might be a good idea to set up a three-day weekend or two.  These small breaks, spaced throughout the recess can be a great way to relax and unwind.  Even if all you do is go to the pool or run errands, just a little time off can be just what the doctor ordered.

House Calls.  Speaking of doctors, August is the time to see one, or four, as the case may be.  I recommend getting your teeth cleaned, your eyes checked, having a physical and seeing a dermatologist while you have some flexibility in your schedule.  

Ship-shape, spit-spot.  I don’t know about you, but I am not as diligent about keeping my files and organizing my e-mails as I should be.  I also tend to stack business cards in huge piles on my desk.  Recess is the time to fix all of that.  Think of it like spring cleaning your computer.  

I would suggest organizing your shared files first.  Then scan in any paper documents that you want to save but don’t need to be taking up space on your desk.  Then sort through your emails and purge the chaff.  Last, add all your contacts to Outlook so that you know who to call next time you need something.

Pamper Yourself.  Get a haircut.  Go for a pedicure.  Have a massage.  See a facialist.  Just take a little time to baby yourself while you still can.    

Recess is also a great time to start a new skincare routine.  So if there is a product you’ve been itching to try, now would be the time.  I also like to whiten my teeth and give my hair a break from the daily blow-dry during the recess.  

So how are you spending your August recess?


    leave a comment

  1. TA says:

    I'm going to bed earlier and working out more. I definitely need to take better care of myself.

    August 3, 2011/Reply
  2. love it says:

    Planning on reading a longer non-school/work book. Going to the beach before the summer's over. Visiting the parents.

    August 3, 2011/Reply
  3. Laura says:

    Finishing off my Masters dissertation, getting a three day country break, sorting through papers and magazines, sorting out wardrobe and general finding time for me!

    August 3, 2011/Reply
  4. Zoe says:

    I have spent all day organizing- I wanted to get to a couple co-sponsorship memos but right now I need to tackle my desk!

    August 3, 2011/Reply
  5. prosecutordc says:

    Honestly, since those in other jobs don't get a recess….I'm not sure why Congress does. For most Americans, with the exception of a possible vacation, August is business as usual.

    August 4, 2011/Reply
  6. TA says:

    To prosecutordc–It's not a vacation and staffers are actually hard at work. The bosses aren't resting either–they're working diligently in the district and either visitng constituents/having meetings. When the boss is away and Congress is in recess, it gives us Hill workers time to catch up on work we couldn't accomplish. I'm an LC and I handle mostly health care related and Social Security issues and I got slammed during the whole budget fiasco. So now I'm finally having the opportunity to write my letters. It's nice that the tempo on the Hill is slow so I can really dedicate myself to other things I may have overlooked.

    August 5, 2011/Reply