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How to Gracefully Transition from Summer Back to Work
August is full of mixed messages. Go into any store at the moment and you’ll see beach balls, swimsuits, and coolers competing for shelf space with notebooks, backpacks, and back-to-school supplies.
August is just like that (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere; insert as needed your own "end of summer" month). We’ve got one foot in summer and the other in back to work and school.
You might have one last trip planned, which you’re juggling around the start of the kids’ band or football practice, or the return of service work and clubs. That's to say nothing of our own work, where it's time to get “back to business” and start pushing toward year-end goals.
Balancing August’s Two Spheres of Life
All of which leaves many of us trying to figure out how we balance these two (often-competing) spheres of life. Add to that any creative work we’re trying to squeeze or shoehorn in — often on the margins of an already-full schedule — and the balancing act becomes even trickier.
Having trouble finding time for the projects that you truly want to push forward? You might need to rearrange your days to make the hours count. Or you may need to do a better job setting boundaries, particularly around OPP (other people’s priorities).
Dealing with many projects and overwhelmed with opportunities? Focus on your whys and future vision to help prioritize, adjust, or eliminate projects and reduce load and therefore whelm (more on this below).
Perhaps the most important thing we can remember as we transition is to manage our expectations and give ourselves some grace. We won’t get everything right and we won’t get everything done, but that’s true at any time of the year.
The Habits You Need for Summer → Fall
As we navigate this transition between summer and fall, vacation and work/school, and family time and focus time, all of us might find it helpful to reengage those habits and routines we’ve let lapse (by choice or by default) during these last few months.
August is one of those months of change for most of us, and it’s usually a big one. At times of change like this, it’s important to hold onto those keystone habits that make the foundation of who we are and how we live in the world.
I want to focus on a few core habits that will likely help all of us as we’re moving through August, and back to work/school:
Planning, planning, planning. If you’re not planning your time, you’re likely not spending it (and your energy and attention either) on the projects that matter most to you and are likely your unique contribution. If you haven’t done much Momentum Planning over the past few weeks or months, now’s a good time to get back in the swing. Grab a weekly planner or monthly planner from our current Digital Momentum Planner set or from our free planners page (or give the Momentum app a try) and start putting your current tasks and projects into a form that’ll help you focus on and finish them.
Balance the 3 Cs (Create, Connect, and Consume). Sometimes the summer finds us leaning more heavily into one or two of these categories and neglecting the others. During a time of transition like this, it’s good to assess where we’ve been spending our time and adjust if one or two areas have been getting short shrift. Hint: it’s usually not Consume.
Finally, Self-Care. Yes, maybe you feel like the summer was full of self-care: family gatherings, trips to the beach or the hills, motorcycle rides, gardening, reading a new favorite novel, or exploring a new place. But now’s a good time to ask yourself how you’re feeling as you shift back toward work. Are you really feeling rejuvenated, energized, and ready to dive into the projects you planned in Step 1? If you’re not, then reboot those self-care habits that will help you do that: nature, solitude, meditation, working out… you get the idea. And you know deep down which things those really are. Honor that knowing.
Coming into this time of the year we need to consider which habits and routines can be rebooted — and will help you to manage whatever degree of change you’re experiencing.
Overwhelmed Often Means Overloaded
In the last curves of summer, when we’re busy squeezing the juice from a few more summer days while also moving into fall with its new cadences of work and school, we may find ourselves facing the overwhelm of trying to hold onto, balance, and do too much.
I’ve said often (often enough I probably need to write a separate post about it): When we feel overwhelmed it’s because we’re overloaded. You can’t really solve for whelm, but you can solve for load.
Here are a few things to consider when trying to assess and ease your load:
Spheres of oversight. How many different balls are you trying to keep up in the air? And how different are those from each other in size, weight, composition? All of those factors create additional complexity and challenge when trying to balance everything.
Your true capacity. Time, energy, and attention to start, but other also subfactors have an impact too, like seasonal alignment, burnout or burnout recovery, or how much and how long you’ve been pushing, and so on.
Recognize that overwhelm is a feeling, and don’t judge yourself for feeling it. Instead, look to the side of the overwhelm coin you can control, and find ways to reduce the overload that’s creating the overwhelm in the first place.
Hopefully some of these strategies can help you more smoothly transition between summer and fall, allowing you to enjoy the best of what both seasons — and even the shift between them — have to offer.