Ah summer – the season of fun in the sun, vacations and get-togethers. With all that fun, routine tends to take a back seat. On the other hand, fall is the season of routine. While winter asks us to hunker down, fall asks us to get involved. With more things to be involved in (a new school year, new activities), schedules can get a little hectic. Rather than letting the week take you for a ride, think about how your schedule can work for you.
The great thing about a change of season is that it is a reminder to refocus. It is a time to think about what you want from the next few months, professionally and personally. More than any other time of year, September is an ideal time to do this. The natural rhythm of the year brings a new school year, which brings a renewed focus on learning. How can you translate the spirit of a new school year into your own life? What might you want to learn or do this year to improve yourself?
A good exercise to reset professionally is to update your resume. Updating your resume not only ensures that you’ll be ready in case the right opportunity comes knocking, but it also allows for reflection.
- How are you feeling about your current job?
- Do you want to advance in your current company or think about new opportunities to explore?
- When was the last time you did an online course and attended a conference?
- When was the last time you did something new in your job?
After reflecting on your current state of affairs professionally, you can then identify steps to meet your goals. If you haven’t learned anything new in the last 6 months, get to reading, or look for online courses to participate in to hone a new skill. If you feel stale in your current role, explore opportunities with your manager to be a part of a new project or to grow into another position.
Personal growth can mean anything from diet and exercise to spiritual growth and emotional self-improvement. Take some time to do a self-assessment.
- How am I feeling mentally?
- How am I feeling physically?
- When was the last time I learned something new?
- What are the things that I like to do but haven’t made time for?
After reflecting on your general wellness, think about what might be a good focus for you. If your concerns are health-related (mental and/or physical), consider setting a goal to see your doctor, find a therapist or start exercising. If you haven’t learned anything new lately, consider reading a new book or listening to a podcast. Making time to do things that you enjoy is important in the fast-paced world of work and life.
How we organize our personal life has a direct impact on our professional life and vice versa. If one feels strained or chaotic, it will bleed into the other. Managing both is a skill that takes time and practice; but it’s an important one – especially during the fall season when schedules tend to change.
“On a quarterly basis, my husband and I try to sit down and think about what we’d like to get done over the next few months. After a summer full of weekend trips and vacations, we find it helpful to reset and think about where our time and money is going. We think about what outdoor projects or activities we want to do before it gets too cold outside. While it may seem early, we also start thinking about the holiday season. Where and with who are we spending each holiday? Should we buy that new dishwasher now or wait until after the financial strain of the holidays? While we need to remind ourselves every season to check-in and set goals, it is a great way to ensure that the months don’t fly by without us making our lives better in some way. By the way, the dishwasher question? We’re waiting until January.” Deanna Parkton, career coach
For more ideas on quarterly goal setting, check out our blog Why Quarterly Goal Setting is the New Year Resolution.
Through assessing professional and personal life goals, you can then identify how your schedule needs to shift to allow time to implement.
Set a Schedule For Yourself
While keeping your goals in mind, do a check-in of your weekly schedule.
First, think about what each week needs to include:
- What tasks or activities need to happen each week? (i.e. house cleaning, grocery shopping, kids’ activities/extracurriculars)
Second, think about how you’d like your week to go:
- What activities would you like to happen each week? (i.e. exercise 3x/week, quality time with family and friends, listen to a podcast, do an online course to develop professionally)
- What is your vision of an ideal week? (i.e. less stress, time to relax at the end of the day)
Third, think about what needs to happen to achieve your ideal week:
- What would make your week easier? (i.e. preparing meals, waking up earlier)
- What steps do you need to take to make that happen?
- What do you need to do more of? What do you need to do less of?
Lastly, identify tasks and activities for each day of the week.
Be sure to make time for fun and relaxing. Maybe you schedule Mondays as meal prep night so that you can go for a walk after work on Tuesday. Or maybe you schedule Thursday night as cleaning night so that once the weekend hits, you can do things you enjoy like reading or spending time with family and friends.
Whatever you decide, allow your schedule to provide you with room and space to learn and grow. Embrace the spirit of fall: reflect, learn and grow!