5 Tips Professionals Can Learn From Back-to-School Season

If you’re like me, no matter how long it has been since graduation, September means back-to-school time. The excitement of new experiences and challenges, combined with the shift to fall weather, bring a special focus to this time of year. How can you harness this energy and apply it to your workplace? Take these cues from the back-to-school milestones you remember for inspiration.

Pens, pencils & calculators = assess your equipment: Is your workspace adding to your productivity or draining you? Is there new technology that could help you complete tasks more efficiently? Get your workplace in order and ensure you can focus on your work. Make it comfortable, well lit and functional for day-to-day projects. Bringing in a plant or a photo from a favorite trip you took this summer can help give new energy to the same old space.

New clothes & backpack = assess your personal presentation: Take inventory of your workplace attire and accessories. Do they fit? I don’t mean do they fit your waistline; do they align with how you want to present yourself in professional situations? So much change has occurred in the world of work over the last few years. Perhaps you changed jobs or industries. Perhaps you took on more at your current company. Think about how you are currently presenting yourself and assess whether you need to make a change.

Moving up a grade = assess your skill set and readiness for new challenges: Like going from elementary school to middle school, some moves require you to stretch your skill set. Even if you are at the same company, if you changed teams or took on more responsibility, you need to make sure that the skills you are bringing to the table reflect your willingness to learn new things and grow. Maybe you’re ready for a promotion or finally want to pull the trigger on a career change. Take action this fall to maximize your preparedness for these new challenges.

Making new friends = assess who you need to add to your professional network: Once we graduate from formal schooling, we often don’t have a built-in setting for meeting new people other than the workplace. Meeting new people is a skill you need to continue to hone throughout your life. Challenge yourself to grow your network by volunteering or getting involved in a professional association. Networking with others in your industry could help with business development or finding job leads. Find a mentor outside your industry that can help you think of your skills in a broader context. Developing business relationships can be fun if you just get out there on the playground!

Football Games & Homecoming Dance = assess major milestones for rest of year: When you have something to look forward to and know the deadline is ahead, you can plan your work accordingly. If you conducted strategic planning at the beginning of the year, revisit your goals and the rationale for establishing them. What changed throughout the year? What do you have left to accomplish? Focus your energy where you need it and look forward to achieving some big goals in the remainder of the year. And then celebrate the big wins!

You’re never too old for a little homework, so assign yourself the above assessments and get ready to head back-to-work for a productive fall semester. Easy A!

About the Author

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Jenni Luke is chief executive officer of Step Up Women's Network, a nonprofit, professional membership organization based in Los Angeles. In this role, she leads one
of the most sought-after women's groups in the country in its second decade of service.

Read more from Jenni Luke

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