12 Workplace Practices to Make the Best of Autumn

G’bye summer. Yes, it’s true, summer’s officially over now, but who are we kidding? We all know that once it’s “back-to-school” — whether or not it’s been three or 30+ years since you had to do that — summer’s O-V-E-R! But, rejoice… perhaps now you can really get some “stuff” done around your workplace once again… receive timely responses to your emails, voice mails and who knows what else.

Autumn naturally gives rise to anticipation… new starts… new books and pens and pencils… new committees, projects and perhaps even new teams, or at least new team members. One may get to wondering “Now that we’re all back together again — at full workplace complement, with no more summer holiday skeletal-staff situations — how will things be different at work? How will they be better? How will I be better? Haven’t asked yourself that particular question yet? That’s okay, there’s still time to squeak-in with some early autumn contemplation of these questions and take action.

September is a great time for getting more serious… for taking yourself off the professional “cruise control” that summer-brain and summer-mode can induce, and get back to driving that good ole job of yours with both hands on the wheel and pedal to the metal. Time to shift gears and perspectives… to start anew… to put your socks back on!

Consider these suggestions for hunkering down with a little joy in your heart and renewed passion for your profession for the balance of this autumn, balance of this year and beyond:

1. Acknowledge the change: Identify what good there is in the change of seasons and the change in workplace energy that autumn ushers. What good there is for you, personally, and for your team too. What can now start happening at work because autumn’s arrived? What can now stop happening… and what can or should continue to happen despite the new season?

2. Review your career path: Ask yourself where you want to be, within your organization or elsewhere, by e.g., next summer? If you clearly know you want to stay put in your current position — fine enough — ask yourself, then, what can you consciously choose to do to improve your current expertise in your field, so that you still have a sense of dynamic, forward momentum and professional evolution, while staying put.

3. Plan a staff event: Arrange or champion the coming together of your team/department/branch, for an official employer-sponsored workday autumn event, e.g., a “Back-to-Business” professional development off-site, planning session or staff appreciation day. A staff off-site event is a perfect way for teams to reacquaint, reenergize, refocus and welcome new staff into the fold.

4. Plan your next vacation now: A dear family member of mine has just seen the backend of a grueling 10 months of “all-the-works” treatment for breast cancer. I thought it so loving and ever-so-wise of her husband to see the value of planning ahead and purchasing two tickets to Mauritius for a luxurious two week stay (they left just this past Sunday); he booked this fabulous vacation last November, just after her two surgeries and before her months of chemo and subsequent radiation. These tickets gave her something lovely to focus on as a reward for soldiering on through all the challenging days, trials and tribulations in between. Not to suggest that your work is as unbearable as all that, but you get my drift. Give yourself something exciting to look forward to. The older you get, the faster the months twirl around the calendar. It will be spring again before you know it and you’ll be on your way once again!

5. Sign up for an evening class: One that further develops your current professional skills, and/or one that’s quirky and different… just for fun!

6. Start a new, recurring personal workplace tradition: e.g., take yourself and a different colleague out to a fancy lunch near your workplace on the first Monday of every month (the autumn “back-to-work” blues may be challenging enough to cope with; the Monday morning variety can get the best of many, too; this strategy can help ease the blues that each of these events may bring). Back in my corporate/office days of yesteryear, a close circle of colleagues would get together for breakfast at a luxurious nearby hotel once a quarter and still be ready for work, butts in seats, at 8:30 a.m.! It was great fun, indeed, and a fabulous way to treat ourselves at the start of the business day. I still recall how those that had not attended, wished they had. Needless-to-say, as time passed, that little “breakfast club” of ours grew and grew, eventually going on to become a proper recurring team event.

7. Explore the possibility of working from home one day a week: Surprisingly, perhaps, many find that where possible, working from home proves more productive than the primary workplace… no time for unscheduled, over-chatty drop-in colleagues, water-cooler time-wasters and other workplace distractions that take your “eyes off your fries.”

8. Host a “Thank-you for another fine year of your service” anniversary luncheon, for each of your immediate staff members, if you’re in a position of official leadership: Hold off-site monthly luncheons for all staff that joined the organization in that particular month, e.g., staff that joined the company in October attend a manager-hosted October luncheon (which may end up including only one other or as many as four or five; hypothetically, there may be some months that don’t include any; it all depends on the coincidence or planning of your company’s hiring practices and rhythms).

9. Treat yourself to a new business outfit (or maybe even two!): Kids get new clothes for a “new year,” why not you too? Man or woman… it’s a nice pick-me-up. Gotta go back inside? back to work? no more summer casuals? Well, if you must, at least you can feel extra good about it with some brand new duds. Works for most everyone, every time.

10. Sincerely befriend a new employee: Go out of your way to help accelerate that person’s comfort with the new team/the new work environment. Introduce them around… take them to lunch. Don’t just wait for the “official” people to take care of this through organizational orientation; demonstrate to yourself and for that other, your personal leadership in this regard. Remember (if you had such an experience as a child) what it was like to be the new kid at a new school, where everyone else knew one another? It’s got to be tough.

11. Clean out your desk, files and drawers… again: The virtual ones as well as the physical. There’s nothing like a clean and tidy workstation at which to tackle the tasks of the day. We all mean to complete on this task, but my-oh-my how most of us do procrastinate — you, too? I’ll confess. In a Zen/Feng-Shui sort-of-way clearing your workspace just may be the thing to clear the way for other, fortuitous professional events and experiences to befall you this autumn (no pun intended!). It’s worth a try!

12. Roll over some of those fabulous summer habits into your autumn routine: Who says you have to give up, e.g., barbecuing, jogging, swimming, reading fiction, long evening walks for gelato or whatever? Summer holidays may, indeed, be over, but you can still consciously build daily “mini holidays” into your routine to allow for some continued, recurring sense of R & R. Now that your socks are back on, the days shorter and the workload seemingly bigger, you’ll need those rest and relaxation moments more than ever. Be sure to build them in.

If autumn must have its way, you might as well engage in activities, practices and mindsets to fortify what joy you can find in the daily workplace routines and demands of this new season. Get pleasure from your autumn and welcome back to some serious, passionate working!

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. — Albert Camus

I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” — Lucy Maude Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” — Jim Bishop

P. S. I will become a recurring Monday morning radio personality on Classic Hits CKOC 1150 AM (starting October 6th, 2014, from 8:45 am to 8:47am), offering Motivational Moments to start your weeks off right! It will be terrific to connect with you live once a week, in addition to our once-in-a-while connections via Working Wisdom. Hope you listen in!

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