The back to school season can be hectic for everyone. From business owners saying goodbye to summer interns, to nonprofit leaders managing a decrease in volunteer engagement, this time can be filled with lots of transitions and anxiety. Wherever you find yourself this season, here are a few tips for maintaining your energy, productivity and engagement:
1. Re-frame Your Perspective
Whether you are a full-time organization leader, or a returning student now juggling the demands of your business and school, it is important to recognize that this is an opportunity for a fresh start. As a child, the end of summer meant that there was no more sleeping in, and that hours of playing outside would be replaced with hours of completing assignments. However, those last few days of summer were also filled with the anticipation of making new friends, getting new clothes, and learning new things. It is important to remember that when offered a fresh start, the possibilities before you are endless. Rather than focusing on the challenges of transition, choose to focus on the new ideas, relationships, and resources that will now be available to you.
2. Revisit Your Business Plan
For students, a big part of adjusting to the expectations of a new school year is following the course curriculum prepared by their teachers. Just as students and teachers follow the curriculum they planned for the year, organization leaders also need a plan to follow. As summer ends, this may be a good time to revisit your own “curriculum.” If there are areas that need to be updated and improved, there is no better time to do so than now. If you do not have a business plan, now is also a great time to create one.
3. Make Learning Fun
I recently had a great conversation with a teacher who explained that part of the novelty of starting the school year is observing the excitement of her new students. For many of them, especially those that may not have performed well the year before, the new classroom, little-known ideas, and new expectations enhances their student experience and makes learning fun again. As an organization leader, it is your responsibility to inspire your team in much the same way. Your team’s ability to handle transitions and challenges is a direct reflection of your leadership. No matter the size of your team, it is important to give everyone the opportunity to be a part of the transition and learning process. When learning is fun for your team, it creates a more enjoyable and productive experience for everyone.
4. Plan for a Break
Have you ever returned from a vacation more tired than when you left? My parents knew about this phenomenon long before I did. That is probably why, as a child, they insisted that the last few days of summer be spent simply resting. They understood that was not the best time to return from vacation, or to spend endless hours running errands. It was important that I returned to school with energy and a renewed focus. As an organization leader, the same is true. As summer comes to an end, and you prepare for the new season, be sure to include a planned break as you are planning every other aspect of your business.
What are your thoughts? As an organization leader, what are some of the things that help you during the back to school transition?
Andrena Sawyer is the Founder and President of P.E.R.K. Consulting, a nonprofit and small business consulting company in Washington DC. In addition to her work with nonprofits and start-ups, she leads workshops on personal and professional development for women across the country. Much of her content can be found in her eBook, “The Other Side of Assertiveness.”