For many students around the country, it’s Back to School Week. I always dreaded going back to school. I hated that summer was ending, and just wanted to go back to the beach. I would sit at home on that last blissful day and mourn the impending loss of freedom. But the real world waits for no man - or child - and so off I went the next day.
Back to school time is also an opportunity for re-starting your business mindset. As people return from summer both physically and mentally, business will start to pick up again. Getting back into the routine is an opportunity to re-establish relationships, start new initiatives, and improve processes.
In school and in business, I’ve been the most successful when I prepared myself well. It’s easier in school. Teachers provide the impetus when they send the school supply list, and the deadline of the first day of school is unavoidable. It’s harder in business, which requires more self-direction and self-motivation, and doesn’t always provide a firm timeline.
Here’s how businesspeople can have their own successful Back to Work Week:
1. Get Your Supplies
Teachers always send students a list of the supplies they’ll need for a successful school year. You can do the same with your business. A good craftsman never blames his tools, but it still helps to have good ones. Make sure you have a comfortable, supportive chair that doesn’t hurt after the long hours you put in. Consider a desk that converts between sitting and standing. Maybe get some snappy new clothes for your next presentation. Something about new equipment can make the job a little more fun.
2. Review Your Skills
In the summer months, I used to try my best to forget everything I’d learned that year. I’d make sure my mind stayed as far away from algebra and misplaced modifiers as it could. But when school came around again, I found I needed to review my prior learning to prepare myself to learn something new. The same is true in business: sometimes you need to review the basics. If your foundation is sound, you’re in a better position to build.
3. Get in Good Habits
Any time you start or re-start an activity, it’s a good idea to take stock of your process. When students return, teachers try to get their students off on the right foot. They organize their classroom and set clear expectations. They may suggest color-coding folders and notebooks by subject. You should do this at work, too. As you get back in the swing of things, think about how you can make your day more efficient. If you’ve developed bad habits, take this opportunity to establish new, better ones.
4. Go In With a Good Attitude
As I admitted, I dreaded the start of the new school year. I wanted an endless summer, and it was easy to fall into a funk when reality set in. That meant I always started the new year with a bad attitude. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap at work. Instead of fear or anger, approach the restart as an opportunity. Try something different, make a new friend, experiment with new processes. Challenge yourself to see how efficient you can become. Keep it interesting!
5. Reward Yourself
Even if you follow this advice, the first week back after the summer is tough, emotionally and physically. You need to do something nice for yourself for surviving. Have a nice meal, go on a fun outing, or visit with a friend. Even better, begin a new good habit that is repeatable and enjoyable, like setting up a standing exercise date with a friend or signing up for a fun exercise class. Rinse and repeat!