With Labor Day looming and the unofficial end of summer on the horizon, it means it’s time to focus on the annual transition from easy-going summertime days to the get-serious first school days of September.

http://tinyurl.com/kng7smcWhether you went on an official summer vacation or just enjoyed the local sights of your hometown, you likely enjoyed a more laid-back atmosphere. As back to school nears, it’s time to kick it in to high gear and focus on year-end planning and goals. 

While this process isn’t always fun or easy, it is possible to cushion that jolting reentry to our professional reality. Like we say in our new book, SmartStorming: The Game-Changing Process for Generating Bigger, Better Ideas, all it takes is rethinking some long-held assumptions and exploring new ways of tackling old, familiar challenges.

Here are a few examples of how you can think differently in order to make your “chill mode” to “work mode” changeover as positive and productive as possible.

1. Ease into It—During these final days of summer, it’s time to start thinking about what will be waiting for you on Tuesday, September third. Envision your coworkers, your boss, your team, and even your clients or customers. What kinds of tasks will you all be working on? What types of meetings will take place?

The idea is to get motivated, even excited, about being productive. Just taking this mental journey through future-gazing can help ease your transition back to the office.

2. Set Some Tentative Goals—Why not take it one step further and actually identify some things you’d like to get done? Create an “aspiration list” of things you want to accomplish during the last four months of the year. How can you inspire and coach your coworkers or team to be more productive and successful? What personal and organizational goals would you like to put in place?

Think big and make it real. This will help prevent end-of-vacation dread, because you won’t have to go from zero to sixty the first day back after Labor Day. The moment you get back you’ll have something tangible and worthwhile to focus on.

3. Ask Yourself, What’s So Terrible About Work, Anyway?—Vacation and summertime activities are certainly fun. But so are creative challenges, stimulating projects, positive collaboration with colleagues, and meaningful achievements. So why not choose to embrace what lies ahead?

Start looking at fall as the season for rekindling possibilities after recharging your batteries over the summer. Plus, you’ll soon have the holidays to look forward to, as well!

4. Cross Your T’s and Dot Your I’s—Is your contact list clean and up to date? Do you have the necessary apps installed on your smartphone, tablet, and/or computer, and have they all been updated to the most recent versions? Is your schedule handy and accurate? Make sure you have everything you need to start the month efficiently and effectively, rather than spending your first few days getting systems in order.

5. Get in Touch with Your Colleagues—Often, we aren’t in regular contact with our team or coworkers during the summer months. So why not reach out and reestablish contact with important coworkers before you get back to the office?

Make a quick call or shoot them a brief email. Try to do your personal “catching up” before you return to the office, so that you can all be optimally productive and focused from the get-go.

Heading back to work after time off is as much a state of mind as it is a practical reality. Take a few minutes to readjust your thinking, make a few plans, tidy up your systems and your mind. You’ll soon discover you’re more motivated, more energized, and more productive for your efforts.

About the Authors:
Mitchell Rigie and Keith Harmeyer are the authors of SmartStorming: The Game-Changing Process for Generating Bigger, Better Ideas (Dog Ear Publishing, 2013, ISBN: 978-1-4575166-3-4, $29.95). The book is available from all major online booksellers and at SmartStorming.com.

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