Is it just me? The calendar says summer is over, but I'm not ready yet. The projects I needed to finish aren't finished. Meanwhile, the sun is still shining, and I still want to be outdoors. How do I motivate myself to get back to work?

Of course, it's not like work stops during summer -- not when you run your own business. Most entrepreneurs don't even take vacations. It's just that things seem easier in summer. The phones don't ring as often. The office is quieter. Fewer people make demands.

After a while, you start to think, "Wouldn't it be nice if life could always be like this?" Unfortunately, there seems to be a direct correlation between working hard and earning income, and if business was always so slow, I wouldn't be able to pay my bills.

So I've got to rev up my engine again. Here are some tricks I'm using to get recharged and make the most of fall:

  • Get dressed. If you've spent all summer in shorts or jeans, putting on "work" clothes can change your outlook. Even if you normally wear jeans in April as well as August, switching to nicer casual clothes for a while can help you regain focus.
  • Develop a plan. We just held a very productive planning meeting for my company that resulted in an outline of specific goals, a timeline, and lots of positive energy. Highly motivating!
  • Make a list. If you don't have the desire to develop a plan, at least make a "To Do" list. Having tasks assigned each day gives you a structure for getting back to work.
  • Do something interesting. Yes, a lot of your business is tedious, but much of it is interesting as well. Try to remember why you started your business in the first place, what excites or challenges you. Begin with those.
  • Make some appointments. Go on, get out there. Meeting with others -- whether customers, prospects or even vendors -- gets you talking about your business (hopefully enthusiastically) again.
  • Launch a new project. If you can't motivate yourself to keep going in the same direction, start something new. Of course, it should be something that helps your business and bottom-line, but new projects typically get your brain working and your motivation soaring.
  • Clean. Change seasons by cleaning your desk or your office. Just being able to see your desktop again can be a boost!
  • Attend a lecture or meeting. You don't have to generate all your creative juices yourself. Look for outside stimulation. Attending a program at an industry or entrepreneurs' association can be a good source of new ideas.
  • Read something. Another way to rekindle your motivation is to read something thought-provoking about your business or industry. Pick up a good business book or magazine. Stimulate your mind!
  • Surf the Internet. Gather info and inspiration from business or industry websites. You can try mine at
  • Exercise in the morning. Get those endorphins going by moving your feet. I find that morning exercise -- even a brisk walk -- gives me more energy all day.
  • Read motivational quotes. They may seem cheesy, but I like quotes as a quick way to get inspired. I have a huge compilation of quotations I've gathered, and I go through some whenever I'm stuck. Here's one from Aristotle: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
  • Draw up a list of outstanding bills. If you're not motivated by anything positive, try fear. Go ahead, look at the stack of accounts payable or credit card debt. Yikes! It's definitely time to get back to work. Seriously!
  • Turn off baseball. I associate summer with baseball. I frequently listen to, watch, or attend games. Switching baseball off would be a good signal to myself that Fall has finally arrived. I should stop watching. I definitely should. Really. I know it. But there are pennant races and long-standing records being broken, and the score is tied. Okay, so maybe summer doesn't have to be completely over, after all.

Copyright Rhonda Abrams, 2002

Rhonda Abrams writes the nation's most widely-read small business column and is the author of The Successful Business Organizer, Wear Clean Underwear, and The Successful Business Plan. To receive Rhonda' s free business tips newsletter, register at