Another summer vacation has come and gone and everyone is getting back to work, but not for long. The holiday season is just around the corner and that means you only have about 60 solid workdays to make things happen and hit those 2014 goals.

Every year at this time I pay careful attention. Time goes by fast and there is a short window before Thanksgiving to complete projects and get people's attention. That's why I use the first 2 weeks of September to prioritize and strategically plan. I make a list of the most important initiatives for Q4. I also make sure to move projects to next year that have no chance of completion in the short timeframe. This allows me to maximize my resources and get the important stuff done. Being focused and structured increases my productivity and allows me to relax come the big party season.

Here are more insights from my Inc. colleagues.

1. Focus on what you do best.

Granted you wear lots of hats, but still: one activity generates more business, revenue, profit, or goodwill than anything else you do. The problem is you've gotten good at rationalizing why you don't do more of that one thing. You've let yourself think all your other "stuff" is just as important. But it's not.

Unclutter your workday so you can spend at least half of your time doing what creates the best return. While some stuff won't get done, in time you won't care because you'll be too busy enjoying the returns on your truly important work. --Owner's Manual

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2. Make business your immediate priority.

Time has a funny way of getting away from you around the holidays, so now's the time to really get stuff done. For me personally, this means finishing up projects that have been put on the back burner over the summer, reaching out to any potential clients who may have gotten out of touch, seriously burning the midnight oil and just putting my nose the grindstone to crank out the work--as much as I possibly can. Put business first for the next 60 days, and then you'll be in the position to put your friends and family first over the holidays. --The Management Guy

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3. Take the heat off.

After many miserable 4th quarters my clients have learned that these final months of the year must be planned for and handled differently. Review or create your goals for the quarter and construct a timeline to achieve them. Make sure to build in time to manage the unexpected and certainly keep your goals realistic. If your season is typically slow, and your targets are equally or more aggressive than previous quarters, you have set yourself up to fail. We tend to forget or dismiss the pressures of the holidays. This year, why not take the heat off with a well-constructed plan and give yourself permission to enjoy the season? --The Successful Soloist

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4. Create a Catalyst

This last working period of the year is important to closing any business that might be lingering, and to position you and your company for next year's budgets. Create a reason other than a sales call to get in front of your customer. For example, several of my companies hold open houses in the Fall inviting customers and related networking groups to socialize. Others hold specific events, webinars and lunches that include training on the latest trends in marketing or technology.

These activities all serve as non-pressure ways to catch-up with customers and to keep your products and services top of mind. They are often the tipping point for pushing a project along and establishing a foothold in the next budgeting cycle. --Lean Forward

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