This year I'm going back to work and back to studying: I'm starting a year-long course in Global Health and Crisis Management. It's an exciting prospect. I'll be learning about how health organizations deal with natural disaster relief, epidemics, vaccination and immunization programs, and diet and wellness initiatives in all sorts of challenging political and economic situations. Though it is a distance learning program, the coursework will be tough for me to "sneak" into an already packed schedule, but I have tackled such challenges before and find I'm usually happiest when I'm a student.
As with so many challenges in daily life, much work and thought needs to go into setting yourself up for success. There's no pleasure or edification in rushing about feeling like you are spinning your wheels as you try to tackle a multitude of tasks and goals. Anyone who is going to ENJOY (notice my emphasis on the word enjoy) a new endeavor, needs to think about organizing themselves so as to make life smoother amidst a ramped-up schedule.
Whether your kids are going back to school, or you are, or life/work just gets busier in the fall, you can benefit from the fresh start of a "school year" and the organization it inspires. Some ideas:
- If you don't currently use a planner, think about buying an "academic year" one. Though I use plenty of electronic devices and programs, I love having a paper, spiral-bound planner. I like the large size that includes both monthly calendar views and pages for daily notes/lists. Before school starts, I go through the months and map out any deadlines/dates that I already know about (holidays, meetings, conferences, etc.) That planning helps me to get the big picture.
- Buy any other school supplies that you find lacking in your home/office environment. (Fresh pens, pads of paper, a good stapler--these little things can make you feel more efficient.
- Make a list of school year goals. Perhaps you want to truly procrastinate less, or have a less stressful holiday season, or work in a regular exercise routine, or meditate daily. Name it and write it.
- Then think about how you can make it happen. What will it take? Specific time scheduled in your planner (an excellent way to make dreams reality). Supplies? Classes? Books? Think about your resources.
- How will you hold yourself accountable? There's a reason why we teachers give tests--it's really the only way to ensure that deeper/closer attention is given to a subject. It's not the result that is important, it's the studying. So even if you aren't engaged in formal study, you need to figure out a way to keep yourself on task.
- Closet clean out: Regardless of your student status, anyone can benefit from a fall wardrobe assessment. Go through your closet and ditch that which you haven't worn, or looks too worn. Make a list of pieces you need to complete outfits. Make a list of repairs you need to make. Repairs should go in a place where you see them and are reminded to either address them yourself, or take them to someone else who can. Keep your "shopping list" in your purse so that you can add items as you come across them.
Finally, I challenge you to think about what you want to learn about this fall. Take up a new area of study. It could be fall landscaping, putting up preserves, financial planning, wine, knitting, jazz. Maybe you want to read 10 great classic books by the end of the year. Maybe you want to learn more about wildlife in your region. Whatever your endeavor, stack the deck in your favor by giving yourself the gift of good "back to school" planning. There's no way you'll regret it and you will up your chances of making your own honor roll.