By now we’ve all put the beach towels away and started pulling the warm blankets and sweaters out of storage. Post-Labor Day, the transition out of summer is officially over. It’s time to settle into fall.  

If your feelings about fall are aligned with the survey results I wrote about in last month’s blog, you’re already enjoying the season. Many of us are happier in fall than other seasons, according to that survey’s findings. Hopefully you’ve already started experiencing some fall joy. The leaves are starting to change in the Northeast, and I’m looking forward to cooler walks in the woods with my dog and hot cider by the firepit in the evening. 

Not Everyone is Feeling the Joy of Fall

Fall Planning

Your time management and productivity challenges didn’t end when summer did, so you might be totally overwhelmed by your to-do list. The start of the new school year might still be causing chaos for your family. The news cycle is as dark and scary as always. It can be hard to feel cheerful when the sun sets before your work day is done.  

The beginning of fall can also be an unpleasant reality check if you have some big year-end goals to meet. Before you know it, September has arrived, which means it’ll soon be December. Suddenly, you realize you still have a long way to go.  

A lot of the time management and productivity issues that I see professionals and business owners struggling with aren’t new for fall, though.  

They might be amplified by the transition from summer into fall, but those time management challenges have been holding people back for a long time now. Living through years of constant political tension and a global pandemic has depleted people’s internal resources. So if you’ve been feeling generally worn down and overwhelmed all the time, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of stress and trauma you’re carrying around while you’re trying to check off your to-do list, that you weren’t carrying around a decade ago. 

It’s harder than ever to just knuckle down and get everything done. You might be worried about what’s going to happen with COVID, your business, the economy, the climate or any number of major things in the coming years. Or you might have a massive project that you know you need to tackle, but it’s so overwhelming that you can’t even get started. And with the end of the year and the holiday season coming, there’s also a lot of extra stress coming your way.  

This Fall, I Propose a Shift in Focus. 

Feeling getting bogged down by open-ended worries about the future? Becoming overwhelmed by the huge amount of work you need to get done before year-end?

Instead of allowing those daunting feelings to creep in, ask yourself:  

What can I get done between now and Thanksgiving?  

Be realistic with yourself here.

  • What tasks can you complete with that time?
  • Which projects can you get done?
  • How can you move closer toward your goals with just over two months of time?
  • What can you really commit to getting done, at work and outside of it, between now and Turkey Day?  

Setting Thanksgiving as the end date of this focus period gives you all of December to wrap up year-end goals. That will help alleviate the pressure to get everything done at once. Focusing on a period of just two months gives you time to make real progress on your long-term goals without getting overwhelmed about what comes next. And then you can sit down at Thanksgiving feeling proud of everything you’ve accomplished during the fall. You’ll know you can build on what you’ve been doing to create a peaceful, productive winter too.   

3 Time Management Tips to Get More Done Before Thanksgiving  

1: Break up the things you want to get done between now and Thanksgiving into weekly and/or daily tasks.

Pull up a calendar for September, October and November (whether it’s a paper calendar or a digital one) and start getting those tasks scheduled. Looking at the entire stretch of time between now and Thanksgiving may help you strategize about the best times to get things done. For example, say you know you’re going to want to have a light week in mid-October so you can enjoy some leaf-peeping and apple-picking during the peak of fall. Maybe you front-load your schedule so you get more stuff done at the end of September. 

2: Experiment with building new habits.

One of the reasons New Year’s resolutions fail is because of how open-ended they are. It’s daunting to pick up a new habit or routine with the expectation that you’re going to do that thing every day for the rest of your life. Is there a challenge you can set for yourself now, with Thanksgiving as the end date? Maybe it’s a daily yoga practice, or writing in a daily journal, or a new time management habit you want to build on.  

3: Share your goals and plans with someone.

I’m always a big advocate for talking about your time management and productivity plans and goals with the people in your life. Tell your family and team about everything that you plan to get done between now and Thanksgiving. Creating some accountability might be useful for you, but it’s also about getting the support you need from the people in your life. If you’re going to be pushing to get a big project done during these next few months, you might need your partner to pick up some slack at home or some extra brainstorming time with a mentor or colleagues.  

I’m always here to support you, too. This fall, I’m training a small group of busy professionals and business owners in my Time Matters Boot Camp 90-Day Virtual Program. And it’s not too late for you to join us!  (We have 2 spots left…is one of them yours?) Get 90 days of weekly trainings, phone calls and resources to help you take control of your time, once and for all. You’ll learn how to prioritize, break through the obstacles that are holding you back and design the time management system that actually works for your life, your brain, and your work. Click here for more information about joining us for TMBC! 

Enjoy your fall! 


Sarah Reiff-Hekking