Post-Labor Day, it's time to find professional focus

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Posted: Monday, September 2, 2013 12:00 am

Summer is over. Labor Day marks the unofficial end of the season, and the back-to-school, back-to-work vibe is clear. It's time to shift your brain from standby mode to “all systems go” ... and it's not always easy. Creative problem-solving experts Mitchell Rigie and Keith Harmeyer offer some tips to cushion your re-entry.

1. Ease into it. Your mind may still be on baseball, snorkeling and suntan lotion. But it's time to start thinking about what will be waiting for you on Tuesday. No need for heavy lifting here; just imagine what will be going on when you return. What kinds of tasks will you all be working on? What types of meetings will take place? “The idea is to get motivated, even excited, about being productive,” advises Harmeyer. “Just taking this mental journey through future-gazing can help ease your transition back to the office.”

2. Set some tentative goals. Why not take it one step further and identify some things you'd like to get done? Create an “aspiration list” of things you want to accomplish during the last four months of the year. What changes would you like to make in your work routine? How can you inspire and coach your co-workers or team to be more productive and successful? What personal and organizational goals would you like to put in place? “Think big and make it real,” says Rigie. “This will help prevent end-of-vacation dread.”

3. Ask yourself, “What's so terrible about work, anyway?” If you're not looking forward to the intensity of autumn, that's probably based on your belief that whatever you're doing now is more enjoyable than what you'll be doing then. Vacation and summertime activities are certainly fun. But so are creative challenges, stimulating projects, positive collaboration with colleagues and meaningful achievements. So why not choose to embrace what lies ahead?

4. Cross your t's and dot your i's. Are you prepared? Do you have the tools you need to do your job effectively? Get your contact list up to date. Install necessary apps on your smartphone, tablet and/or computer, and update the ones you already use. Start the month efficiently and effectively, rather than spending your first few days getting systems in order.

5. Get in touch with your colleagues. If vacations, days off and lightened workloads have resulted in less frequent communication, reach out. Get in touch with important co-workers so you're ready to get back to work.

Rigie and Harmeyer are the authors of “SmartStorming: The Game-Changing Process for Generating Bigger, Better Ideas.”

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