How To Refresh Your Work Routine For Fall |The Everygirl
As we head into fall, you might find that this is the perfect time to revamp your work routine. At this time of year many of us swap PTO shaft and summer vacation for days of busy meetings and tight deadlines as we strive to meet our annual goals. As you send the kids back to school or start a new term in college, it’s no surprise that we might feel the need for a new, refreshing routine.
Here’s the good news: With the help of time management coach Anna Dearmon Kornick, you can create a productive and fulfilling fall work routine. Kornick told us workers are most productive in the last four months of the year — but how do you get that level of production without collapsing and burning? Here are Kornick’s top tips for making a fresh start after a holiday-packed summer and ending the year on a strong note.
1. Head into fall with a fresh perspective on your routine
Fall typically signals the start of a busy work season across all industries and positions. With only four months left in the year, the pressure is on to get those daily to-do lists and annual goals done before the holiday season. “One of the first things that comes to mind about returning to work in the fall is Parkinson’s Law, which says work stretches to fill allotted time,” Kornick shared. We’re entering a busy season to make up for the slowness of summer. We embrace a sense of urgency at work that can be overwhelming and exhausting.
Kornick’s advice: “Enter this busy season with a fresh perspective on your routine. What has served you well in the spring and summer may not necessarily serve you well in the fall.” Some areas to think about improving routines are your pre-work routine, your lunch break, and your recurring meeting schedules.
2. Adapt your working day to the time change
It’s easy to fear that time change— unless you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that doesn’t have Daylight Saving Time. A simple way to combat feelings of fear and anxiety is to use the change to your advantage. “Turn the change into something positive. Fallback is a good time to transition to an earlier bedtime due to the light shift. Consider letting natural light in through your windows in the morning,” Kornick said.
As you adapt your personal routines to the daylight saving time, think about how you deal with it at work. The reality is that it’s a tough time for everyone. What can you do to help your colleagues and yourself adapt? “During the week around the time change, remember that the time change is coming. Move your meetings later in the day to be kind to your team and to yourself,” Kornick suggested. (I make a mental note to postpone all of my meetings this week by at least an hour.)
3. Plan your schedule around your chronotype
If you google “chronotype,” you’ll come across different biological chronotype models, all of which reflect each person’s unique circadian rhythm. For each season, but especially when work picks up again in the fall, Kornick says knowing your chronotype is a game changer. “Knowing what chronotype you are can help you decide how to spend your time during the day and what to put into your work schedule. It also helps managers and team members to know that not everyone thinks the same way at the same time of the day,” said Kornick.
Not sure what chronotype you are? We covered Daniel Pink’s chronotype model in a recent article. Find out if you are a morning lark, a third bird or a night owl. Then rearrange your working day in autumn accordingly.
4. Understand what you to need versus want in your routine
Fall is an excellent opportunity to switch into a new routine. Before making any changes, Kornick recommends determining your needs and desires. Then reverse engineer your schedule. Below are some questions to ask yourself:
What do I have to do every morning?
Kornick said these actions should be considered “non-negotiable” for a successful morning. For example, do you need to get up and have a cup? Coffee to function during your workday? have to wear it real clothes for your zoom calls to avoid awkward conversations with your manager about your clothes? Do you have to send your children to school every day?
What do I want to do every morning?
After you’ve determined what you need to do each morning, think about what you want to incorporate into your routine. Adding 10 minutes of reading, a visual meditation, a light workout, or a morning walk can be invigorating ways to start the day.
Once you’ve made a list of your needs and wants, reverse engineer your schedule to determine when you should wake up. Let’s say you have to be at work (in person or online) by exactly 8:00 am and plan to shower, have breakfast, read 20 minutes and do yoga before your work day. Then you would figure out what time you need to get up to do all those tasks by 8:00 am. Also, ask yourself if there are any tasks that you can trim, condense, or move to another time of the day.
Movement is my top priority, especially during busy times. In my pre-pandemic life, I woke up at 5:00 am and went to Pure Barre before going to work for the day. My workdays are different now that I’m working from home, but initially I tried to enforce the same workout schedule at 5:00 am. However, after doing Kornick’s reverse engineering exercise, I realized I could adjust my schedule. I increased my workout to 4:30pm (right after work) and established a new routine.
5. Set goals for Q4 and try quarterly planning
We tend to view our year in terms of the 12 month calendar. It’s not uncommon to set annual goals at work as companies work toward corporate goals. However, Kornick said: “When we think about the year as a whole, it’s easy to lose sight of our goals. We lose things in the ebb and flow of over a year.”
Because fall is a fast-paced work season, Kornick recommends shortening your goal setting timeframe. Rely on quarterly planning to shape your routines. “Reducing the time frame and reflecting on your work, your life and your goals every quarter changes everything. The three-month quarters coincide with the changing seasons, making it easier to reset your routines with the changing seasons,” Kornick shared.
We build our routines around our goals and priorities. As such, it can be difficult to settle into a routine when our goals feel unclear. I’ve recently adjusted my work routine to take concentrated work hours every other Friday and avoid meetings unless I have to. If I hadn’t known what I wanted to do with that time—which was hard work on my active projects—I probably wouldn’t have stuck to my no-meeting schedule.
As you revise your routine this season, identify and understand what you need to accomplish preseason Holiday season. Be realistic about how much time you have and what you need to do. Consider moving non-urgent goals and priorities to the first quarter of next year.