Maybe it's a mix of the autumn chill and extra espresso, but there's something about fall that wakes everybody up. The kids are back in school, the vacation mindset has ceased, and we're looking to accomplish everything we set out to in 2017 before the end of the year rolls around.
Next thing you know, your calendar is full of meetings, your inbox is overflowing, and you realize you're going to have to sprint all the way to the holidays. Yep, it's a sneaky phenomenon, that fall—a time when you can easily get lost in other people's priorities and forget any of the summertime promises you made to yourself.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
You can take advantage of the collective energy boost of this final seasonal sprint by reconnecting to what's most important to you and claiming first dibs on your time. Here are a few simple strategies to make this your most energized and productive fall ever:
1. Start with what actually makes a difference.
This one might seem obvious, but it's one of the top reasons people underperform and get trapped in overwhelm: They're not clear on the projects and priorities that will most positively affect their work and life.
For example, a corporate client of mine was preparing for maternity leave. After writing out a litany of tasks she had to get done before stepping out, she was able to see that only six projects from that list would make the difference between her feeling like everything was in order for her absence. She realized she could easily get those projects taken care of by eliminating distractions for the time she needed to knock them off her list. But, more importantly, she understood that it was the feelings of ease and grace in this time of transition that she was really after.
And that’s the trick. If you can start with what you want to feel and then devise simple ways to experience more of that right now, tackling any resultant to-do's becomes infinitely easier.
For example, let's say you want to feel more vibrant and energized. What simple practices could you put into place to start experiencing more of that right now, not just come January 1? Here are a few ideas that don't require spending hours in the gym:
- Doing quick toning or strength-building techniques during your pre-existing habits (e.g., squats while brushing your teeth)
- Taking 10-minute dance and stretch breaks once or twice a day
- Going for a walk around the block to clear the mind and body between projects
2. Look for small, consistent practices that reap huge returns.
The soundest investment opportunities provide maximum upside, minimum downside. In other words, what you stand to gain far outweighs any risk. When considering where you can gain the strongest returns on the investments you’re making in time and energy, ask the following questions:
- How much effort is required here?
- Is there a way for me to considerably lessen the effort for the same or a better result?
- What happens if I don’t show up for this?
- That last question is critical, because sometimes (or often) the greatest returns come from cutting back and letting go of what doesn’t serve you, just like a tree shedding its leaves in fall.
Cutting back can feel scary, but it might also be the smartest investment you can make.
3. Prioritize your priorities.
Take a look at your calendar and tell me what you see. How much of your time have you set aside for what’s important to you? One of the most effective strategies for getting your fall to-do's done is, quite simply, scheduling them. So once you’ve done the big-picture work of deciding where and how to focus your energy and attention, go ahead and put that nonnegotiable time in your calendar.
To make the most of this, make sure there are also plenty of entries that reflect important, not urgent, priorities that you know pay high dividends—calling your mom, going for that run, writing a sincere "thank you" note to a friend who helped you out last week.
Can you create one calendar entry of uninterrupted time right now to zero in on you? Because, truth is, you don't have to wait for fall or any other time of the year to tackle what matters.
Ready for your most vibrant fall yet? Consider starting with these four investments in your health that won't break the bank.