Yes, of course I know that autumn doesn't officially start until the 22nd, but Labor Day symbolically marks the end of lazy days at the beach, endless rounds of icy mojitos and leaving work early on Friday.

Now that September is here, it's time to focus. After all, you only have four months to accomplish everything you set out to do this year. As my grandma used to say, "Time's a wasting!"

Here are 30 ways to be much more productive at work--and make the most of the 30 days of September:

  1. Stop procrastinating. I used to be one of the 25 percent of people who are chronic procrastinators. But I finally discovered that putting things off not only affected my productivity--it made my team suffer. September is a great month to go cold turkey.
  2. Chart when you are most productive and block time to tackle difficult problems. For me, that's early morning. So I allocate time--avoiding meetings before 10 a.m.--and get to work during those periods.
  3. Speaking of meetings, decline at least 10 percent of the invitations you receive. Ask yourself: "Is this meeting really necessary? And if it is, do the people running it really need me?"
  4. And if you're organizing a meeting, resolve to make it worth everyone's time. Start by setting clear objectives for what the meeting will accomplish.
  5. Reboot virtual meetings. Web meetings or teleconferences are usually the least productive (unless you count multi-tasking). But these sessions don't have to suck. Create ways to actively engage participants through tools like comments, white boards and polls.
  6. Never leave any meeting without agreeing on next steps and roles.
  7. Dust off your list of New Year's Resolutions. What's one thing you really wanted to accomplish that you should make a priority now?
  8. Every evening, create an old-fashioned list of the things you need to do the next day. This not only creates focus, it also helps you sleep more soundly (since you're not obsessing over what you need to do tomorrow).
  9. Lay out your clothes for the next day. This is such an old-fashioned practice, but it really works--because rather than racing around madly trying on clothing, you're all set.
  10. Sleep. Make a good night's rest a priority--more important than cyber-stalking your old flames on social media or binge-watching old episodes of Homeland. After all, you can't be your best if you're dragging-down tired.
  11. Get up 15 minutes earlier. It's doable (an hour earlier probably isn't) and that 15 minutes just creates enough time for you to manage your morning tasks less frenetically.
  12. Make the most of your commute. If you take the bus or train, read a book or professional journal. If you drive, try podcasts or audiobooks.
  13. Shut off social media at least one day a week. Try Facebook-Free Tuesday.
  14. Another thing to shut off: email. Choose your most productive period at work--say, 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.--and actually close your email during that time.
  15. Buy a "Do Not Disturb" sign and post it at your workspace when you need to get something done. One of my colleagues has a photo of a closed door that she sticks on her cubicle to signal that she really, really doesn't want to talk to anyone right now.
  16. When you're really under pressure, get lost. Book a conference room somewhere far away from your workspace where no one will find you for an hour or two. Or borrow an empty office. (You might want to ask first.)
  17. Stop multi-tasking. It doesn't really work, anyway--just distracts you. Get one thing done, then move on to thing 2.
  18. Build routines. Studies show that people who follow practices on a consistent basis accomplish more than those who don't.
  19. Decide on a way to manage ideas. Although ideas are wonderful, they can get you off track. So record ideas in a notebook and review the list every week or so. I write ideas on Post-It Notes, then stick them in a folder for future reference.
  20. Take five-minute breaks to clear your mind--but don't dawdle. I walk to the rest room and refill my water bottle, but don't stop and chat.
  21. And take a proper lunch break. Several of my colleagues always leave the office for at least 20 minutes--they say that the fresh air and change of scenery really refreshes the brain. I like to read useless stuff like Us Weekly because there's nothing more bracing than seeing how celebrities are just like us.
  22. Pace yourself. Running through work doesn't make it go faster--or create better quality. Walk at a measured pace.
  23. Drink more water. I know you've heard this a million times before, but proper hydration does contribute to better productivity.
  24. Delegate more. Even if you're a secret micromanager, there are things other people can actually do (maybe even better than you do them).
  25. Invest in teaching your team members the skills they need to succeed. The more experienced they become, the less time you'll have to spend managing their work.
  26. Be as messy as you need to be. My mom couldn't stand a paper out of place, but a little bit of chaos actually helps me focus.
  27. Don't automatically say yes to every request, especially if what's being asked doesn't support your objectives.
  28. Give yourself a break. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Forgive yourself for not being perfect.
  29. Once you make a decision, stick to it. Don't spin or revisit action steps.
  30. Be more like Yoda. You know what he said: "There is no try, there is only do or do not."