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A Time Management Coach’s Advice on How to Refresh Your Work Routine for Fall

A Time Management Coach's Advice on How to Refresh Your Work Routine for Fall

As we transition into the fall season, it’s a prime opportunity to refresh and refine your work routine. During this time, many of us shift from the leisurely pace of summer vacations and PTO to a more demanding schedule filled with meetings and impending deadlines as we strive to achieve our year-long goals. Coupled with sending the kids back to school or embarking on a new college semester, it’s no wonder we seek a rejuvenated routine.

The good news is that, with guidance from time management coach Anna Dearmon Kornick, you can design a productive and fulfilling work routine for the fall. Kornick emphasizes that the last four months of the year are when workers are often at their most productive, but how can you manage this heightened productivity without burning out? Here are Kornick’s valuable tips for resetting after a summer filled with vacations and finishing the year on a strong note:

Approach Fall with a Fresh Perspective on Your Routine:

As the fall season kicks in, it typically signals the onset of a busy period across various industries and roles. With only four months remaining in the year, the pressure intensifies to complete daily tasks and year-long objectives before the holiday season. Kornick suggests considering Parkinson’s Law, which states that work expands to fill the time available. In response to the swift pace of fall, we often adopt a sense of urgency at work, which can become overwhelming.

Kornick’s advice is to enter this bustling season with a fresh perspective on your routine. What worked well in the spring and summer may not be suitable for the fall’s demands. Key areas to focus on include your pre-work routine, lunch break, and recurring meeting schedules.

Adapt Your Workday to the Time Change:

The shift in daylight saving time can often be met with dread. However, you can turn this change to your advantage. Embrace the “fall back” by transitioning to an earlier bedtime due to the shifting daylight. Make use of natural morning light by letting it in through your windows.

In your professional life, consider how to navigate the time change. Recognize that it’s a challenging period for everyone, and think about how you can help your colleagues and yourself adjust. During the week surrounding the time change, be mindful of its impact and consider shifting your meetings to later in the day to support your team and yourself.

Plan Your Schedule Around Your Chronotype:

Understanding your unique circadian rhythms, or chronotype, can be a game-changer, particularly as the pace of work accelerates in the fall. Identifying your chronotype helps you decide how to allocate your time during the day and plan your work schedule. It also promotes awareness among managers and team members that not everyone experiences the same level of productivity at the same time of day.

If you’re unsure of your chronotype, researching models like Daniel Pink’s chronotype can be illuminating. This will help you determine if you’re a morning lark, third bird, or night owl, and you can adjust your fall work routine accordingly.

Distinguish Between Needs and Wants in Your Routine:

Fall presents an excellent opportunity to embrace a new routine. Before implementing changes, Kornick advises that you identify your essential needs and personal preferences. Then, structure your schedule in reverse based on these distinctions. Ask yourself:

What are the non-negotiable actions that I must do every morning?

What are the things I want to include in my morning routine?

After making this list of needs and wants, work backward to determine your ideal wake-up time. Consider how you can efficiently accomplish all these actions by your start-of-work time. Evaluate if there are tasks that can be condensed or rescheduled for later in the day.

Kornick provides her own example: she prioritizes exercise and initially tried to adhere to her pre-pandemic 5:00 a.m. workout schedule. However, by reverse-engineering her schedule, she realized she could adapt her workout routine to 4:30 p.m. immediately after work, resulting in a more manageable routine.

Set Q4 Goals and Embrace Quarterly Planning:

While it’s common to think of the year in terms of a 12-month calendar, Kornick suggests that this perspective can lead to losing sight of your goals over the course of the year’s ebb and flow. Given that the fall is a fast-paced work season, she recommends shifting to shorter-term goal-setting.

Embrace quarterly planning to shape your routines, as it enables you to reset and align with the changing seasons. Kornick underscores the importance of connecting your routines with your goals and priorities. Clarity about your objectives is crucial for maintaining a consistent routine. Identifying what needs to be achieved before the holiday season, allocating realistic time, and considering relocating less urgent goals to the following year’s first quarter can ensure that your routines remain effective and focused.

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