Summer provides the ultimate time to rest, relax, and reset. The months of summer offer ample opportunity for family time, hobbies, and just living at a slower pace. However, all good things must come to an end, and summer is no exception. Experts say that the month following summer (September) is often the best time for setting important goals - and charging toward them. September also represents the final push toward yearly objectives for many companies. Here’s how to make the most of September.
Why is September Ideal for Productivity?
Hopefully, you've had plenty of fun over the last few months. No matter your region, chances are you’re enjoying pleasant weather and any children in your life are out of school. Summer is a popular time to take vacation, with the longest vacations happening during June, July, and August. Though research shows that people take the most vacations around Christmas-time, they are more likely to take longer weekends and extended trips over the summer months. Many people view September as a time to re-engage and double down on their efforts, for these reasons:
That “back to school” feeling
It’s probably been years since you’ve been in school, but as children we all experienced the cycle of a school calendar. It’s natural to feel like the summer is a “break” with the end of August representing time to get serious again. Many people describe September feeling like a mini new year, offering time to start fresh.
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Preparing for the final quarter
For organizations who follow a traditional quarterly calendar, September is of particular importance. By the time September rolls around, you’ve had almost 3 total quarters to execute on strategy and measure results. During this month, you can take stock of how things are going and you’ll know what needs to be done to finish the year strong. It’s an ideal time to make a plan for the remainder of the year and determine which tactics are most crucial for those last few months.
It’s a good time to recommit and make changes
Many people move into the final quarter of the year with a renewed focus. People often spend their summer with a more leisurely schedule, and then approach work with a refreshed spirit. Similar to the new year holiday, people often make new goals and think of new ways to be more productive or profitable. Autumn is the start of a new season (many people’s favorite season) which feels like a natural time to set new objectives and plan how to achieve them.
More staff availability
Do you occasionally find that during summer months it can be harder to get important meetings booked or collaborate with co-workers? Since many people enjoy their time off in the summer, it can be more difficult to coordinate schedules, which can push back deadlines and milestones. Most people are likely to be back in the office by September, but not yet taking time off for holidays. This makes it easier for teams to coordinate, which helps things to move more quickly. This is particularly true if everyone around you is experiencing that same “new season” energy!
People are well-rested
If you look at employee behavior, you’ll see patterns around when more work gets done. One of the trends you’ll notice is that people have heightened periods of productivity after times of rest. Just like after the holidays, when people charge into the new year with renewed focus, staff are more likely to apply themselves in September. After people have had time to rest and relax, they will feel recharged and have more energy to apply to their efforts. Furthermore, people tend to feel more grateful if they have had an enjoyable summer. When people feel grateful, it permeates all aspects of their lives and lends to higher productivity and performance. Some employees say that they feel especially loyal to their employers after taking extended PTO made possible by the company.
Studies show that autumn is the most productive season for workers, with the highest percentage of tasks being completed in October (meaning they are planned for in September). For many people, September provides a fresh start and exciting new chances to end the year on a high note.
Tips for Achieving a September Reset
We’ve covered why September is a great time to tap into increased energy and concentration. It’s often when people feel they have the most focus and can get the most done. If you work with others, collectively having this energy can produce amazing results. Here’s how to take advantage of the momentum you’ll find in September.
Take time to reset your mind
As summer comes to a close, make a point to take some time and be intentional about the last quarter of the year. Review how far you’ve come and how performance is trending to your goals. Think about the necessary changes you need to make moving into the rest of the year. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What progress have you made toward your yearly goals?
- What has gone well that you should continue to do?
- What is stopping you from making further progress in key areas?
Similarly, take time to assess your own mindset (and try to change it if necessary). Are you feeling energized and refreshed, or are you exhausted? How motivated are you moving into the busy months ahead? Depending on your answers, you may need to make more efforts around work-life balance or finding a productive routine.
Regardless, think of September as a clean slate. It’s not a good use of time to dwell on things that didn’t get done (or done well). If there are areas of frustration, use those as motivation for doing better to close out the year. Some people find this “reset” easier if they make a tangible change, such as making an adjustment to their daily schedule or re-arranging office furniture.
Review and reset goals
Just like your overall mindset, your goals need to be evaluated and possibly adjusted. How have your goals progressed overall? Which ones have been met, and which new goals have emerged? Maybe there are some goals which are no longer relevant. Think about what will make the year a success overall. Which things are most important for your business to achieve between now and the end of December? Which things can you do to really move the needle in those areas? One important note here: be realistic. Autumn brings a rush of energy, but it can be a difficult time for service or product delivery. What do you truly have time for when you’re delivering on your core business day-to-day? Narrow down your list of goals and prioritize the most immediately attainable.
Make new plans
You’ve probably heard the phrase “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” As you set new goals or recommit to current ones, you need to take the time to create actionable plans around them. Planning doesn’t need to be an overly complicated effort - simply ask, “What work needs to be done to deliver on these goals?” Then drill down into sub-goals or action plans. Create a list of necessary actions and then set dates for each. The best way to do this is to consider the final milestones and work backwards from there. September is an ideal time to gather motivated colleagues and conduct a working session, complete with whiteboards or online project management tools. Get all of the agreed upon tasks into a project plan that’s accessible to everyone.
Consider changing your work routine
A great use of time in September is optimizing your work habits or environment. If you don’t already have one, implement a daily or weekly planning routine. Start by thinking of ways to refresh your current approach, beginning with these general tips for productivity planning:
- Each Friday, spend a few minutes dedicated to what’s coming next week. Look at the key tasks for next week and plot the time to work on them in your calendar.
- Write down a plan for the important things you want to get done in the next week or so. Having this “to do” list will help set your mind at ease and give you more control over how things get done. It’s important to be intentional about how you complete tasks, versus just working on things as you have time.
- Set 3 priorities for each week. This can be work toward important goals or smaller projects or operational tasks. Block time in your calendar to work proactively on these items. If you accomplish more than those 3 goals, that’s great - but if the week gets away from you, at least you’ll know you made time for those 3 most important tasks. At the end of each day, review your progress on tasks and make a brief schedule for the next day.
- “Switch off” at night. It’s important for your work-life balance that you can shut your brain off after a period of time. By making a plan for the next day, you’ll be better able to shift into leisure mode each evening.
- Develop a good morning routine. How you start your morning can have a big impact on the remainder of your day. Try doing the same activities each day, but include good habits where you can. It’s also helpful to separate your work and home life with some sort of “commute” routine - even if you don’t go anywhere. Maybe you work out in the morning, or listen to your favorite songs in the shower or a news podcast on your drive. Whatever you do in the morning, take some time to focus on healthy activities that help you to wake up, get in a good mood, and get moving and ready for a great day.
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Make the most of the environment
In September we naturally feel more energized and motivated, but don’t let that overtake you and ruin your work-life balance. How can you balance the most productive month of the year with self-care? You don’t want to burn out before winter even starts. Luckily September offers some advantages that can help you to make the most of your renewed energy. Try doing the following:
- Get more sunlight. Depending on where you live, as you approach winter, your days of sunlight may be waning. As the days get shorter, it's important to take in sunlight where you can get it. Shift your outdoor activities to the morning if you can. For example, if you go for a daily run, you may want to do this earlier in the day rather than after work. To keep your energy up, try going for a walk mid-day. Open curtains and windows to get light and fresh air.
- Stay active while you can. Again, this is region-dependent, but for many people winter is a time to hunker down and stay indoors. Before you get to that time of year, move as much as possible. Fresh air and movement is good for everybody (for health and productivity reasons). Autumn has a lot to offer if you’re willing to bundle up once it gets chilly. Go for a jog, head to a park, meet a friend for a hike, or take your dog for an extra walk. All of this movement not only keeps your mind and body healthy, but it will supply new energy when you sit back down to work.
- Add a creative activity. Research finds that fall is America’s favorite season, and for good reason. From the chilly air and changing leaves to football and pumpkin everything, there’s a lot to love about autumn. That’s one reason why September ends up being so productive. Why not channel some of that productivity into non-work endeavors? The new start this month provides a good chance to take up yoga, start a pottery class, or do something else that brings you joy and adds to your well-being. Make the commitment to take care of yourself as well as your work, and you’ll get more sustainable results.
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September is a great time to reset and renew. Spend this month focusing on your own well-being as well as recommitting to your work goals. For more insights on productivity, be sure to follow our blog. We share lots of tips, trends, and takeaways for being more productive every day, in work and beyond.