Do you remember how excited you were when it was time to go back to school? There was nothing but new possibilities ahead as you said goodbye to the lazy days of summer and hello to a new routine.
Why not capture some of that excitement and channel it into your business? This year, try adopting a back-to-school mindset for an added boost of productivity and enthusiasm as you round out the year. These four tips can help:
1. Buy New Supplies
Remember how it felt when every pencil in your pouch had a freshly sharpened tip and an unblemished eraser? Right now, the stores are loaded with an intoxicating amount of school and office supplies. Refresh your stash by scooping up new sticky notes, paper, pens, highlighters and the like. You can even take advantage of timely sales and stock up on cool supplies for the year.
"How you do anything is how you do everything," life coach Sylvia Hall says. "Why use a cheap pen, have fake art or continuously jot your notes on easily lost scraps of paper? Check your supplies, and aspire to create a more organized and beautiful method."
2. Organize Your Desk and Clean Your Space
On the first day of school, when you sit down in a brand new spot, that desk is a blank canvas just waiting to be organized for maximum productivity.
"The first day of school was about organizing your desk, so take time out to reevaluate your desk and make sure the things you need are at your fingertips," Hall suggests. "Make sure your files are organized and easy to access, and by all means, throw away the extra ketchup packets and chopsticks you're storing."
And don't limit the clean-up to just your desk. At Grasshopper, a company that provides virtual phone solutions to businesses that was recently acquired by Citrix, fall was ushered in one year with an office-wide clean sweep.
"The objective was to encourage the team to de-clutter and reorganize, and really help our space shine," says Taylor Aldredge, ambassador of buzz at Grasshopper. "We scheduled it on a Friday afternoon and bought cleaning supplies in advance."
As Aldredge says, "It's a simple way to have some fun and get [the office] clean without spending a ton of money."
3. Set New Goals
Unlike those going back to school, you may not have planned to master integers or study the artists of the Renaissance, but you can set some time aside to examine your business goals. When the back-to-school season arrives, you're staring down the fourth quarter of the year. Think back to what you wanted to accomplish in January. Have you achieved those goals? Have you already exceeded those goals? Is it time to revisit your plans or set some new goals?
"Mid-year, mid-month, mid-night—any time is a good time to hit restart if you don't like the direction your company is [going]," Hall says. If your business plan hasn't been updated in a while, it might be worthwhile to reread it and adjust your company goals as needed.
4. Reconnect With Customers and Colleagues
One of the most exciting things about heading back to school was seeing your friends again after the summer break. If you stepped back from networking this summer or found that it was too hard to reach out to people during vacation season, now's a good time to reconnect with clients, customers and prospects.
Did you skip that coffee and connections group all summer to allow yourself a few extra minutes of sleep? Did you race out the door after working half-days on Fridays without answering all your voice and email messages? Go ahead and contact the people who mean something to your business and solidify the connection.
"If we're being honest with ourselves, connectivity is the key to it all," Hall says. "Now's always the time to wake up our connections and make sure we're showing up the way we want to be seen in both our professional and personal lives."
January and April aren't the only times to make resolutions and spring clean your business. Take some time this fall to freshen up and rethink where your business is headed. With just a few tweaks, you can make the fourth quarter one of your best.
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This article was originally published on August 11, 2014.