It seems like summer takes forever to arrive, and before you know it it’s gone again.
But maybe that’s a good thing – at least where productivity is concerned.
You see, I tend to take it a little easier between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Perhaps it’s the school-year schedule by which I measured time in my youth or maybe it’s because when the weather is grand, the last place I want to be is stuck in my office staring at a computer screen. Many of my full-time-job friends have “summer Fridays” and that hardly seems fair. I left the cushy agency environment to be my own boss, so how did I get chained to a desk… that I bought? What I’m trying to say is that slacking off every once in a while when the sun is shining is my small way of reclaiming the awesome independence that comes with being a freelancer. And I know I’m not alone.
Alas, I can’t procrastinate forever – and neither can you. September is right around the corner and you know what that means – the kids are back to school, your favorite TV shows are ready to start a new season, and you’ve got a pile of work that you’ve been putting off.
It won’t be easy to get back into the swing of things as autumn approaches, but starting early will reduce the chaos you’ll endure if you try to get back on track instantly instead of gradually.
To maintain some semblance of sanity as we say so long to another summer and get back to business, here are a few tips to help you prepare for a productive fall.
1. Change Your Eating Habits
Summer is the best time for salads since there’s so much fresh produce available, but we can be undone by the irresistible, ubiquitous backyard BBQ fare. Hot dogs, hamburgers, corn-on-the-cob, potato salad – none of this is good for our waistlines or our work ethic. These seasonable staples are heavy and somewhat lacking in nutrition; to help us get into a back-to-the-grind mindset, they must be replaced. Sensibly portioned lean meats like chicken and turkey paired with fresh veggies are the kind of foods you want on the menu in order to have the energy to go full speed ahead.
2. Reestablish an Exercise Routine
While it seems like summertime is the perfect time to get in shape, plans for a better body are often thwarted by excessive heat, vacation, and weekend parties. Now that everyone else is getting back to a rigid routine, add exercise to yours – at least 30 minutes a day four times a week – to burn off those cookout calories. Exercise also releases serotonin, which will help you feel better about yourself. And the better you feel, the more confident and clearheaded you’ll be when it’s time to hunker down and get creative.
3. Go to Bed Earlier
Late nights spent on the beach, at the amusement park, or rooting for your favorite Olympian – whatever it is that keeps you up to the wee hours – cause you to sleep past the prime time for productivity. Even if you have the motivation to get out of bed with the rest of the world, chances are you’ll be tired and sluggish later. Nip that problem in the bud by drifting off to dreamland an hour or two earlier.
4. Get Out of Bed Earlier
It stands to reason that if you go to bed earlier, you’ll wake up earlier. Of course, for that to matter you’ll actually have to get out of the bed and get moving as soon as you wake up. Don’t hit the snooze, don’t pull the cover over your hear. Greet the day and get to work so you can relax later.
5. Organize Your Home and Office
I absolutely believe that chaos breeds chaos, so if your home and office are cluttered and unorganized make it a priority to put your life back together in a way that makes it more manageable. When things are in their place, you’ll save yourself time – and a huge headache – which will allow you to concentrate on more important things… like completing the projects that get you paid.
6. Take Inventory of Your Tasks
If you’ve put off tasks this summer, round them up and take inventory of what needs to be done. I like to make a daily list of to-dos so I can stay on track, and when I cross them off it feels like I’ve accomplished something. Start chipping away now and you’ll be in top form for fall.
7. Tie Up Loose Ends
Open projects and other items (like outstanding invoices, for instance; the bane of my existence) are like a looming black cloud – when they’re on your mind they impede your progress and put a damper on your day. Expunge this stress from your life by following up on loose ends until you reach an appropriate conclusion – which, relative to the invoices, will hopefully result in a payday.
8. Restock Your Supplies
You can’t work if you don’t have the proper tools, and there’s no better time to stock up on office supplies than back-to-school season. You can score major discounts on all the materials you need to help you get into the groove.
9. Return to Regular Work Hours
When the summer ends so do “summer hours,” my freelancing friends. Returning to a normal work schedule – nine to five or some variation of that – will leave you feeling satisfied with the time you put in and the work you get done each day. It’ll be tempting to skip out early at first, but resist the urge. Remember, you’ll only get out of something what you put into it – and if you’re only putting in the minimum, you can expect the minimum in return. Hard work, however, pays off; your dedication will be rewarded one way or another.
Are you ready for fall? What are some changes you’re making to get back into a productive routine? Let me know in the comments below.