The transition to September is right around the corner. For many of us, September holds the same “fresh start” mentality as New Year’s Eve – without the champagne and snow!
As someone who was a student for many years of my life, and who for the past 12 years has been ushering children through the back to school routine, I relish the arrival of the fall. To me the sight of clean binders and fresh new pens, packs of unopened paper and unmarked notebooks, heralds a time of reflection and planning that is an opportunity to finish the year off on a high note.
In September, vacations are over, working groups reconvene and deadlines loom. The fall heralds a window of opportunity for teams and leaders to capitalize on the final months of the year and to make them highly productive. If this doesn’t come naturally to you or your workplace, I offer here a few tips to help the transition to September really kick start the rest of the year.
- Take Stock
If you are a teacher, this is a fundamental requirement of your first days back in the classroom. What supplies do you need to move ahead with school year plans? Is everything in its place? What is left over from last year to be cleared out or re-purposed? As a parent you are faced with the same questions as the New Year dawns. What school supplies can be reused? Who needs new shoes, pants, backpacks? Where are the fall and winter clothes and is it time to pack away the flip flops and beach toys?
You will find this same process useful in the workplace. Take this opportunity to reflect on what is left to be done this year. Do you and your team have all you need to be successful in wrapping up projects, achieving targets, meeting customer needs? This can also be a good time to identify where things may need to be tweaked. What is working well? Where could you be more productive?
And finally, reassess those goals set back in January. Are they on target? Still relevant? Do the timelines still fit? Don’t miss this opportune time of year to course correct as necessary in order to ensure that you and your team finish off this year successfully.
- Start something new
Did you know there are 15 weeks between September 1 and December 22? That works out to 75 working days (Monday through Friday). That is enough time to really sink your teeth into a new project, and accomplish many significant goals. In 15 weeks you could train for a marathon, write a 300 page novel (writing about 4 pages a day), start and finish a significant project at work, hire and train a new employee to competence, or even learn a new language (according to ads).
It is ample time to ramp up your productivity, to change a habit, to check something off your goal list. So take the opportunity, start something new and see it to completion before the sun sets on 2016.
- Refresh your routine
When my three kids walk out of school at the end of June, we are all excited about letting go of the carefully planned, highly structured routine that dictates our lives. No more music lessons, sports practices or games, dance classes, 7:55 school bells. The lack of structure feels like a welcome relief.
And when September arrives, we are all eager (perhaps them less than me) to give ourselves once more to the rigors of the calendar and the clock. Bedtimes are adhered to once again, lunches packed in the evenings, time carved out once again for homework and weekly menu planning.
I always take the time to review and refresh my work routine at the same time. Have I slipped into checking my emails 20 times a day versus once in the morning, once in early afternoon and once as I prepare to leave? Have I built enough planning and prep time into my schedule, and am I honouring that? What time am I getting to work; could that be changed to help me be more productive?
Consider what makes you the most effective team member or leader, both at the office and at home. This is a good time to create a degree of structure and routine to your days that sets you up for that kind of success. It’s also the ideal time to review and adjust existing routines as necessary.
- Plan for 2017
It is really never too early to cast your glance down the road a bit, to start to look at what the next year will bring. Start planning the goals and projects for yourself or for your team in the year to come. Take advantage of this time to make sure resources will be available and the path is cleared for what comes next.
Although the transition to September isn’t always an easy one, it is an ideal time to reflect on your work, your team and organizational progress. Follow the above steps to make the fall a meaningful and productive time.