BACK TO SCHOOL: HOW TO GET INTO WORK MODE AFTER SUMMER
It doesn’t matter how long ago you graduated, September will always mean: Back to school. Whether you’re returning to the office with renewed focus, or reverting to a more structured style of freelance work, this time of year feels like a chance for one last fresh start before 2015 comes to an end (!) If your heart is still in holiday mode but your head knows it’s time to buckle down, here are a few ways to fast-track the return to your daily working routine.
Between holidays, three-day weekends, Summer Fridays, and long evenings spent outside, working rituals tend to go out the window in the summer months. I personally think this is no bad thing, but September does feel like a good time to reintroduce some of the practices that help optimise productivity and efficiency.
If you've let your fitness regime slip over the summer (who hasn't?) then autumn is a good time to kick back into gear: the renewed sense of discipline will carry through to your work. Equally, a morning ritual is always worth locking in place , especially when you're self-employed: By making the first few hours of your day non-negotiable, you save energy for making more important decisions later in the day. Curate a calming series of morning rituals, and commit to implementing them everyday.
Autumn is a good time to revisit the goals you set back at the start of the year (or perhaps the ones you decided upon during your midsummer review). You’ve still got a third of the year left to get moving with any projects that are gathering dust on your to-do list! If you’re struggling to find momentum, imagine the last day of 2015 and you're looking back at the year. What would you be really pissed off with yourself for not having done?
SHARPEN YOUR PENCILS. IRON YOUR UNIFORM.
Well, perhaps not literally. But who doesn’t remember the start-of-school-year stationery shop with a heavy sigh of nostalgia? There’s something about replenishing your work supplies that just helps you feel on top of your sh*t. Now feels like a good time to make a trip to Muji for a re-up on a rainbow of gel pens and crisp new notebooks, or finally cleaning up and backing up all the files on your Mac.
Equally, the shift in seasons calls for a bit refinements to your working wardrobe. It’s a lot easier to feel pulled together in autumn’s trench coats, rollbacks, and tailored trousers than it is in a pair of cut-offs – all the more reason to invest in a handful of new pieces in the interest of, erm, getting the job done.
WINTER-PROOF YOUR WORKSPACE
After weeks of spending every possible moment outside, Autumn means a retreat indoors. Dwindling light and colder conditions make building a cosy, welcoming workspace all the more important - chances are, you’ll be spending most of the months ahead parked at your desk. Make it conducive to surviving hibernation season by making sure you have a good lamp and chair. Consider adding some plants that will keep a sense of energy flowing in the barren months ahead.
WORK WITH THE SEASON
If you can’t already tell, I’m quite into the idea of using seasons to structure your professional approach (see: how to Spring Clean Your Creative Career and my Midsummer Review posts). Hopefully your year has been a productive one thus far, which is why autumn is a good time to pull together the fruits of your labour and assess your output. What's going well? What plans have been derailed by the summer months? Where do you want to focus your energy next?
Equally, this time of year can be a good time to start gathering the resources you might need to kickstart 2016 with a bang. It was around this time last year that I first had the idea for The Handbook (and, soon after, for the The WW Club): I spent October planning, November and December working, and January of this year bringing the whole thing to life. That end-of-year incubation period was a really focused time for me, and I'm hoping to repeat the working pattern to tick some final boxes for the end of 2015. Wish me luck.