Vacations are over, school’s back in session, and the temps are dropping (at least for those of us who don’t live in L.A.). Fall is here, and with it comes a renewed focus on, well, pretty much everything that doesn’t include patio happy hours and basking in the sun.
On that note, I’ve put together four to-dos that’ll help you kick your career into high gear this season. Whether you’re looking for a new job or are hoping to get ahead at work, these quick ideas won’t take a ton of time outside of your normal routine, but they will ensure that you’ll be set up for success this season and beyond. Happy Fall, everyone!
1. Go Back to School
Think like the kids this month, and commit to at least one course or training that’ll benefit your current job or long-term career goals. And this doesn’t have to be hard! If you’re short on time, listen to a one-hour webinar on your lunch break, or check out a podcast series while you’re commuting to work. Better yet, sign up for a course with a friend or tell your co-workers what you’ll be learning—there’s no better motivator than accountability! (I’m signing up for a lecture series on public speaking—promise.)
If you’re a manager, you can also extend this goal to your employees. See if you can give everyone a small budget to take a course of their choosing, then have each person report back what they’ve learned to the rest of the team in a two-hour staff meeting. Or, poll your team members to see what they’d like some extra training on—whether it’s communication techniques or Excel—and plan a group session. (And don’t worry, when employees have the option of what to learn, the idea of a training becomes much more exciting and much less sleep-inducing.)
2. Set an End-of-Year Goal
We’re all pretty good at setting New Year’s resolutions, but the burst of back-to-work energy you feel in September can be an even better time to set goals. Take a look at your last performance review and your current workload, and think about one big thing outside of your typical day-to-day duties you can focus on this quarter. Is there a long-term, back-burner project you’d love to wrap up by the end of the year (or a new one you’d love to pitch to your boss)? Set aside just one or two hours each week to make it happen (the 3 PM slump is an awesome time for this), and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish by the end of the year.
If you’re in between gigs or looking for a new one, challenge yourself to set up one coffee meeting or informational interview each week, to set up a beautiful online portfolio of your work, or even to land your dream job by year’s end. (You can do it!)
3. Craft a New Elevator Pitch
If you’re anything like me, the number of invites to meetings, conferences, and networking events in your inbox has doubled since the summer months (let’s not even mention the holiday invites that’ll be coming).
So, be ready by perfecting your answer to, “What do you do?” Yes, I know you’re fully capable of reciting your job title—but what I really mean is crafting an answer that lets people know just how awesome you are. For a great model, check out Alexandra Franzen’s approach: Simplify your job description so that it’s understandable to everyone, and add a line that shows why you love what you do. Practice it a few times until it sounds like “you,” then head on out to those networking events.
4. Set a Work-Free Zone
I probably don’t have to remind you that work can take over everything in your life if you let it—especially during the fall months when everyone else is uber-focused, too. So, head off a mid-season burnout by setting up a “work-free zone” in your life, whether it’s a room of your house (no laptops in the bedroom!) or a time of day (work-free lunch hours or no-email Saturdays). I promise, come holiday time, you’ll be really thankful you did.
Read More: 7 Ways to Kick Off the Fall Stress-Free
Tell us! What are your fall to-dos?