Labor Day, Back to School and Time Management

Summer is quickly coming to a close and Team Thompson (especially our kids) is feeling the pressure. Bubba, Magpie and their friends are staying out later than they have all summer. We’ve hit the lake on days that would barely qualify as “boat weather.” We made it to a Twins game (which was much higher on the list since they are actually relevant), we’re headed to the State Fair today, and we’re juggling schedules to make a trip to Valley Fair possible, all before heading up north for Labor Day weekend.

Minnesotans are all in the same boat, trying trying to squeeze every last drop out of the fading Minnesota summer the State Fair closes and a new school year begins. Add in back-to-school shopping, school orientations, new bus schedules, teachers and classrooms, and getting kids settled into college dorms and apartments, and this time of year is absolutely crazy. Just when we get settled into the rhythm of summer, the season ends a new rhythm begins. Schedules change, priorities are reshuffled, and stress follows. So how do we possibly deal with it?

To start. . . . relax. Take a breath. As I said, everybody is dealing with it, everyone’s world is in flux, and we’re all trying to get used to the new schedule. This is a shared experience by most people in the state—and around the country—so we are allowed to give ourselves (and those around us) a little wiggle room. The big, important priorities won’t change with the season, and the little details will fall into place as long as we focus on what is most important.

Keep that focus by building a schedule that suits the new season. Treat the end of summer as an opportunity to re-prioritize what you do, where you focus and how you spend your time. A summer that may have been a different schedule every day will soon be one where Monday through Friday 8-4 looks pretty consistent. Use that to build out a daily and weekly schedule on your calendar that focuses your attention on doing what you do best, those things that are most important to your success.

Make lists. Every day. Whether it is the last thing you do before closing your office door that night, or the first thing you do in the morning, spend ten minutes listing your to-do’s (it will save you an hour or more of productivity). Note everything you need to get done, and then (this is the most important part!), rank them by importance, A-B-C and 1-2-3. Start with your most important task (your A1), focus your energy on completing it before moving on to the A2, A3, etc. Take a hard look at those items with C’s or D’s next to them Are they really things that need to get done, and done by you, or can they be delegated, or even eliminated? The best part of making a list is not that it not only identifies what you should be doing but that it identifies what you shouldn’t be doing.

The end of summer and the beginning of fall can be a melancholy time, with kids gone, days getting shorter, and winter coming. But with the new season come new opportunities to become more efficient and focused, and to re-examine what is most important. So dial in your schedule, prioritize your day, get the most important things done, and reward yourself with college football on Saturday. . . . which is really the best part of the fall!

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