The dog days of summer are in full swing and many content marketers are feeling the effects. Summer is generally the slow season in our industry, a time when many of our colleagues, superiors and yes, potential leads are on vacation. Many offices now give their employees Fridays off during the summer. Everything may be a little more laid back this time of year, but that doesn’t mean content marketers should be sitting on their hands, waiting for the busy fall season to arrive. In fact, now is the optimal time to plan ahead for the rest of the year.

“But wait,” you might say. “One of the most important aspects of effective content marketing is timeliness. How can I create content for the fall or winter now and be sure it’ll still be relevant when it’s publishing time?” Well, you can never be 100% sure—unpredictability is part of what makes content marketing so challenging and exciting. We’re often asked to create content on the fly, to be reactive to new trends, news, technology, all of it, but there are still things you can do now to better prepare yourself for the moment. In this case, the first step to being reactive is being proactive.

What worked last year? What didn’t work?

It’s important to recognize past successes and failures to inform your future plans. During the slow season, take a look back. How did your content do last fall? If it succeeded, why did it succeed, and how can that success be applied to this year’s campaign? If it failed, how can you rejigger your campaign to avoid making similar mistakes? Perhaps most importantly, just because your content succeeded last year doesn’t guarantee it will this year. Take the foundation of your success and build on it—don’t simply copy and paste it.

Have a tangible, attainable goal

Success in content marketing often can’t be quantified; often, we find ourselves creating great content, hoping for the best and then judging whether it was a success or failure later on. Set a specific goal—5,000 views on a YouTube video, for example—and work backward from that. What needs to be done to all but guarantee those 5,000 views, and what can you do now to put your content in a position to meet that goal?

Rule out as many variables as possible

Draw yourself a map. This seems like Marketing 101, but it’s surprising how many of our peers simply don’t do this. Say you’re looking to launch a campaign after Labor Day—right now, in mid-July, you should already have the specific launch dates or dates set; some, if not all, of the collaborators lined up (Need to hire a graphic designer or videographer? Do it now!); and at least a barebones version of the copy you plan to implement. Planning ahead means you won’t feel too crunched if another project gets dropped on your lap.

Don’t just sit back once you’re done!

Queuing an email for September 15th on July 15th is a mistake. Your work isn’t actually “done” until the moment of launch, and even then it’s usually not done. Keep an eye out for emerging trends and adapt your content prior to launch as needed. Don’t necessarily over tinker, but don’t be afraid to make necessary edits either. Trust your instincts.