School Locker Groove

The end of summer marks the return to school.  Not only does it mean a return to school, but it also signifies a return to routines and structure not just for the kids but for families.  Lazy summer days are enjoyable, but the routines that we develop during the school year can be less stressful and create consistency for many families.

As the kids get organized for school, it marks a good time for adults to get organized for work as well.  When was the last time you reorganized your office, labeled your files or cleaned out your inbox and computer files?  As I watch my daughter diligently prepare for her first day of sixth grade, I see a lesson for adults as well.  Preparation and taking the time to get organized before heading back to school or back to work can make us much more efficient and effective.

Structure and planning leads to much more consistent performance both for our children, our families and our work teams.  Predictable results require a disciplined approach.  Organizations especially larger ones create standard work or SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) because it ensures quality.  As an organization grows in size creating these standard routines becomes more important.  We model this behavior in our personal lives and with our kids by creating schedules and daily routines.  Alexander Graham Bell once said, “Preparation is the key to success.”  So what are you doing to be better prepared for work?

Preparation is the Key

Before Labor Day comes and goes it is a good time to get organized at work.  Take time to make a list of tasks that need to get done that will make you more efficient throughout the fall.


  1. Organize your work calendar.  Delete recurring meetings that no longer occur.  Send out invites for new standing meetings.  Mark your key dates and milestones for projects.  Sync your calendar with your family calendar so that you know when fall break occurs and other key dates for your family.
  2. rchive your inbox on your desktop/laptop.  Purge all unnecessary email files and update your inbox folders to be more relevant for the months ahead.  Create some mailbox rules to automatically move certain emails to the appropriate folders. 
  3. Archive and clean up your mailbox on your mobile device(s) as well.  Create folders and clean up the old emails taking up space on your mobile device(s).
  4. Unsubscribe!  If you are like me you get a ton of junk mail.  Junk mail wastes time and detracts from our ability to respond quickly to important mail, unsubscribe, especially to daily emails that you don’t read. This will save you lots of time.
  5. Backup your files to the cloud or to an external hard drive.  You never know when you main drive might crash or some other catastrophic event will occur leaving you without you data.
  6. Clean your office or work area.  File it or dispose of it, but make clear choices about the papers on your desk and in your drawers.  A clean work area creates a positive reflection to others about your work style and it will also make you more efficient.
  7. Clean out your workbag.  Most of us commute with a workbag and if yours looks anything like mine, it is filled with business cards and stuff that I have no need to be carrying around.  Reorganize your work back and lighten your load.
  8. Rebuild your routine.  Start with when you alarm clock will go off.  Which days will you exercise before work?  What will your breakfast routine look like?  What will you do during your commute time?  Radio, Podcast, Newspaper, early morning phone calls, etc.  Plan to pack a lunch at least a few days a week.  Saves some money and helps you to eat healthier.  Create a daily schedule for when you will get into the office and when you plan to leave.  Of course things will come up, but holding to a schedule and creating a routine reduces stress.
  9. Plan to disconnect from work when you get home.  Create electronic free zones in your house.  Many families have adopted the rule that there are no electronics allowed in the kitchen and dining room.  Sitting down to a family dinner without electronics is very healthy.  Use this as a bonding time with your kids and significant other.  Creating good separation between home and work is important.  Work life balance is totally within your own control.  Don’t become a slave to your work.
  10. Outline your work goals for the remainder of the calendar year.  With four months left in the year, now is the time to outline your work goals for the remainder of the year.  What do you plan to accomplish and what are the key milestones for getting the work done?  Most importantly share these goals with your team.  Goals cannot be a secret, they must be shared because they will require collaboration in order for them to be accomplished.

his is by no means a comprehensive list, but it is a good starting point.  Please add to the list as you see fit.  Most importantly approach your work and the fall as a fresh start. 

As my eleven year old went off to be before her first day of sixth grade she told me she was disappointed that summer was already over.  I explained that the end of summer doesn't spell the end of fun times.  School will be fun and filled with new learnings and experiences.  I shared one of my favorite quotes about change from the band Semisonic "Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end."  Embrace the return to routines and be prepared.