This is such an odd time of year– some of us are still in decadent summer mode, and others are already posting back-to-school photos and getting excited (or livid) about pumpkin spice! Today we’re talking about how to get AHEAD of September even if you only have one afternoon to do it.
At my house we have two more weeks of summer here before the kids start back at school, and we’re making the most of them. We’ve done many hard and fun things for our kids this summer, and now it’s time for OUR vacation! Tonight my husband Nick and I are getting on a plane to fly somewhere with white sand, blue water, and no children. (!!!) It’s a miracle, friends– the first beach vacation we’ve ever taken as a couple.
Whether you’re still enjoying the languid ease of summer, or you’re already back in the swing of things, you can probably FEEL September rumbling toward you– with its quickened pace, crisp deadlines, and all the projects and emails that you’ve put off (oh, was that just me?).
Maybe you’re feeling eagerness, or maybe dread. Either way, here are some things you can do in just one afternoon to help you get AHEAD of that big blast of September energy.
How To Get AHEAD of September in just one afternoon
1. Put every blessed thing in your calendar.
And I mean every single thing you can think of. The lessons, the practices, school holidays, weddings and birthdays and anniversaries, and especially those terrible half-days of school. Your calls with your coach, the cooking class you signed up for, the big deadline at work and the key milestones leading up to it. The days you don’t have childcare and the days your housecleaner is coming. Garbage pickup and bills. Trips, date nights with your beloved, your weekly walk with friends– put it ALL in there. You’ll feel immense relief when you know that your schedule is complete and you can trust it. (Then you can begin almost immediately moving things around, because that is just LIFE and we’re all juggling water balloons most of the time! But at least now you know what you’re working with.)
2. Block off some time for yourself NOW.
A quarterly two-day solo retreat. A monthly planning day. A weekly recap. A daily hour for yoga, morning pages, or your workout. No one else needs to know what those blocks in your calendar are for; you can label them “Very Important Meeting With M,” where M stands for myself. If you block those things out now (all the way through to the end of the year; don’t forget a couple mental health days around the holidays), you’ll be surprised at how other people’s meetings will fit themselves in around you. But if you wait for those blocks of time to magically open up, they never will. I promise.
3. Clean out your purse and your wallet.
I don’t know about you, but my purse is gnarly after a summer. Give it a bracing sweep! Clear out receipts, sunscreen caps, and pine needles. Toss all those My Little Ponies that made their way in there. Hit reset so your bag is a lean mean organized machine. Make a note of anything you’ve run out of– advil, chapstick, bandaids, emergency chocolate– and add them to your grocery list. Restock your business cards. Ask yourself if you need an extra set of keys. Arm yourself with fresh new pens and earbuds. Maybe switch to a crisp autumn bag and a pretty new phone case. You touch these things multiple times a day, so they matter more than things you only use occasionally. How much more energy would you have if it wasn’t leaking into your bag each time you reached for your wallet?!?!?
4. Spiff up your wardrobe game.
All the kids are doing their back-to-school shopping, and a couple new pieces for you might be in order too! Never underestimate the power of your clothes to tell the world (and your subconscious) who you are and how you expect to be treated. I recently added four new things to my own wardrobe, and I was shocked by how much just a few new pieces made everything feel fresh. You don’t even have to actually buy the new things; just decide what you’ll be on the lookout for. If your handbag and wallet were shabby or depressing when you cleaned them out, make that a priority– your handbag is your portable command central, and you deserve a classy one.
5. Get honest about the support you need.
Now that you’ve filled out your calendar, get real with yourself. Do you have a calm, peaceful autumn coming up with lots of spacious hours for dreaming and planning? Or is it jam-packed with big events, tingling deadlines, and daunting things to accomplish? Ask yourself what kind of support you need to truly FLOURISH this autumn, given what’s coming up…and not just survive. Do you need a personal assistant to run errands and make calls? A new bookkeeper? A fresh flock of babysitters? A house cleaning service? A laundry or meal service? An amazing, compassionate, hilarious coach who will help you cut through the noise and thrive in the midst of any challenges that come your way? Remember, you are your own most precious nonrenewable energy source. Things that help you flourish and play your biggest game are not frivolities; they are wise investments in what you’ll get done for the rest of the year, and how much you’ll like the people in your life along the way.
6. Make sure you have something to look forward to.
I have a trip coming up in January that has already been sustaining me for months. Go ahead and book things now for the winter, the holidays, the spring– you’ll get more bang for your buck if you can anticipate them joyfully for months ahead of time. This is like planting seeds for your future self. Research shows that just thinking about something fun that’s happening at a future date can give you a lift in mood, and nothing is more demoralizing than looking down the pipeline and seeing Just More Very Hard Things coming at you. It doesn’t have to be as big or complicated as a trip, though they can certainly do marvelous things for one’s soul and marriage. Even something as simple as preordering a book can create a little shiver of anticipation, and if you book meals down the road with friends, you’re infinitely more likely to actually see them. Here’s my challenge to you: book at least ONE FUN THING into every month between now and next March. It can be a massage, theater tickets, a day of playing hooky and reading a book in bed, a drive to a body of water, anything that makes you smile at the very thought of it.
There you have it!
In just one afternoon, you can set yourself up for an infinitely better autumn. This is not a drill– give yourself just one afternoon to be proactive and get ahead of September, and you’ll reap the benefits for the next few months.
Wishing you long golden hours, a shipshape calendar, and many delightful things winking at you in the future. Come at us, September, we’re ready for you!