Buckle Up, it’s Back to Work Time!
Fall is in the air. The mornings and evenings are crisp. And what’s that we see out there? School buses, crosswalk guards, speed zones, back to school sales, Fall clothes! Just as students are going back to school, many of us are also going back to work! Although we appreciate that many industries (e.g. construction, hospitality, retail) are busier during the summer months, most would agree that there’s simply a different feel about work when it’s warm and sunny out. Whether you have children who are going back to school, you’re taking some courses yourself, or it’s been a long time since this applied to you, September nonetheless feels like a time of transition – and a time to buckle up and get back to it.
But how to make that transition from the lazy, hazy days of summer bliss to the reality of new projects, full schedules and longer work days? Below are some tips for making the most of a “back to school/back to work” mentality.
Design your Routine. Rather than simply slipping back to the way it always was, take this transition time as an opportunity to figure out what allows you to be most productive and creative. That may be about going for a run, working out, or doing some creative writing before work. Or it may be about scheduling the work that requires the most brain power at a time that naturally works best for you, and only checking emails at certain times throughout the day.
Clarify and Tackle Goals and Projects. Although January is traditionally the time when people start thinking about goals, September can actually be a better time to do so. A natural time of transition (leaves, weather), the Fall not only lends itself to change, but we’re also typically in a more positive frame of mind after Summer than following December. You can also use mid-December or just before Christmas as a target or significant milestone date, which sets you up nicely for the New Year.
Learn Something New. School is, of course, all about learning. Whether part of a career goal or a new skill you can apply to what you’re already doing, join the learning masses! Just as students are encouraged to do, this could be about getting out of your comfort zone and tackling something you’re slightly (or immensely!) afraid of, such as speaking in front of a group or joining a conversational group in a new language you’re learning.
Plan your Reading List. Even if it only contains one book, or a list of short articles, be intentional about what you want to read related to your work, and when you will do so (maybe as part of your new routine). There’s a wealth of great books about business, management, creativity, innovation, etc. – and of course, uncountable blogs and online resources for articles and posts.
Don’t Drown. While you may be super keen to get back to it (likely more so than in January when the days are cold and short), it’s important to not go from zero to a hundred. If possible, ease into it and reward your hard work with mini get-aways (there are two more long weekends before December!) or breaks.
Practice Patience. Just as students take some time to get back into the structure of school schedules, classes and homework, employees of all levels often need a week or two to get fully back into the swing of things after the summer months (especially as the days are still longer and warm). If you haven’t recently hosted a team event, the Fall can be a great time to get everyone back in the game with a team-building event.
Freshen up your Workstation/Office. Remember when you were assigned your new locker at school and you got to hang posters and decorate it? It was a quintessential part of the new school season. Organizing, cleaning and decorating your workspace can positively impact psyche for work. It may also be a good time to get the whole organization doing the same thing (e.g. you could schedule a few hours on a Friday afternoon and make it a fun event) to organize the whole workspace.
Although we groaned about going back to school as children, there’s no denying that for many, it was also an exciting and fun time. Rather than groaning about getting back into the thick of work, we encourage you to adopt the best parts of “back to school” for yourselves and your teams.