Whether you’re actually headed back to school, have kids that are headed back to school, or are just getting back to a regular work routine after summer, here are some dos and don’ts for a smooth transition come fall.
DO – Set goals
People typically think that the New Year is the perfect time for making re-evaluating, making resolutions, and setting goals, but realistically, it’s never a bad time to lay out some plans for your future. Think long term, and then break that larger aspiration into smaller steps to help you get there. Good goals are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. The better your goals are, the more likely you are to accomplish them, and feel confident and competent in continuing to do so.
DON’T – Say “yes” to everything
In fact, there’s a lot of value in learning to say “no.” We only have so many resources to devote and the more things you take on, the less time and energy you have to give to any one cause. Rather than saying “yes” to everything, decide what your top priorities are and commit yourself to them 100%, instead of over-extending yourself and thus having less effort to give. Not only will it make you less stressed, you will be more effective in fulfilling your responsibilities.
DO – Take time out for yourself
Your energy is like a bank account; you can make deposits or withdrawals. The more you withdraw, the more it’s important to deposit so you don’t whittle your account down to nothing. Know what helps to rejuvenate you. Is it going for coffee with a friend, or taking time out for exercise? Have you ever tried stress reduction or relaxation techniques like mindfulness meditation? All of these tools can help to replenish your bank account so you have the energy you need to thrive in your day-to-day life.
DON’T – Leave things to the last minute
This is especially true when it comes to healthy eating and exercise. As much as you might wish it would, lunch won’t make itself. Make plans to cook on the weekend so you have meals prepped for the inevitably busy week ahead. This way you know that you’ll have a healthy option ready to go that won’t have you resorting to takeout. Plan to slot your exercise in as well. Pack your gym bag the night before and leave your running shoes out by the door so you can’t make excuses not to stay active. It might feel like a drag at first but you’ll feel all the while better for it.
DO – Get your routine started in advance
Habits take time to form, so you can’t expect to make big changes overnight and expect them all to go off without a hitch. Used to sleeping in all summer? Get back into an early morning routine a couple weeks in advance so your alarm is less terrifying when it goes off at 6AM and you have to be up and out the door. Try to anticipate barriers that might arise and make contingency plans of how you are going to deal with them. That way if plan A doesn’t work, you automatically know what plans B and C are going to be. You will feel less stressed when things don’t work out perfectly because you already know what your alternative strategy is going to be.
DON’T – Give away all of your free time
Set boundaries to help facilitate a work-life or school-life balance. Know when it’s ok to shut your phone off and make it clear to your colleagues when you will be unavailable or out of contact. Instead spend this time doing things you enjoy with friends and family. The work will always be there when you’re ready to go back to it. Knowing your limits also helps you to keep your stress levels in check so you don’t burnout. Setting goals and planning ahead can also help to reassure you that you have plenty of time to complete the tasks assigned to you while still managing to schedule in downtime.