3 Counter-Intuitive Tips for a Successful September
It’s almost September. You know that feeling when the mornings feel chillier and more crisp? The change from Summer to Autumn is palpable.
Anticipation and nervousness are on high. You might feel just that little bit off. Call it Autumn Anxiety, September Blues, September Anxiety or simply feeling down… It's a time when you are making mental and physical shifts from the warm relaxed atmosphere of summer to the more serious, darker and colder months of Autumn.
Some people respond by trying to get super organised and overloading themselves with activities and challenges. The classic back to school mentality hardwired into our brains from childhood. You have a long list of everything you want to do and achieve. And new pencils to purchase.
Others succumb to low mood and distress from changing light levels, less time spent outdoors, and trying to restore sleep patterns disrupted by holidays. September feels heavy and gloomy.
If you are in the first group of over-ambitious over-planners, my advice is to do less better.
Focus on well-being rather than productivity (there is an inverse relationship between over-doing it and actually getting stuff done!).
It may sound counterintuitive, but by prioritising your happiness, joy and comfort, you will feel more motivated, focused and productive.
Here are three ways to stay on top of September.
1. Busy is not Happy: Prioritise Joy Instead
When times are stressful or busy you might take your eye off what makes you feel good.
Before you know it you are preoccupied, and swamped under a pile of to do tasks. This can lead to disengagement, anxiety, and eventually burnout.
The key to avoiding this is to head it off at the pass. Good planning ensures that you don’t get bogged down with responsibilities, and helps you keep sight of what matters to you.
My advice is to make a joy board. It's a visual reminder of what gives you life, lights you up, and makes you feel excited.
How to make a Joy Board for the New Season
Brainstorm everything that brings you joy:
new things that you want to try
places you want to go
books you want to read
films you want to watch
sports you want a go at
recipes that excite you
Find corresponding images and create a collage to hang in a prominent place.
Aim to do at least one of these things every week. It may not sound like much, but my life coaching clients see huge changes in motivation and satisfaction from simple changes.
2. Give Yourself a Small Gift Every Day
If you are like me, you start to notice your mood dip when you aren’t doing enough things that are fun or diverting, just for the sake of it. Forget what you think you should do, and focus instead on what you want to do.
And i really mean WANT TO.
I used to have endless lists of things I should do: drink lemon water, run, meditate, do yoga, journal. These things can definitely be helpful (I mean, the jury's out on the magical properties of squeezing lemon into your H20, but the rest will definitely enhance your wellbeing) but they can often become one more thing to add to a long list of responsibilities.
So choose something that makes you feel truly joyful. And don't focus on how long or how often you do something. The only rule is this: that whatever you choose should feel like a deliberate gift to yourself every single day! (for more on this read this blog post).
How to do small things for big impacts
It's a common pitfall to think that doing more for longer will have bigger effects.
But we live in busy times, and we all have a lot to do.
Sometimes the time pressure on doing pleasurable things makes us avoid them altogether. (I hear from my mum clients especially that they don't have the time to focus on themselves). So, take the pressure off. Do small things. Carve out little pieces of time. Only commit to five minutes and do more if you feel like it. You'll be surprised what a difference it makes.
Make Little Lists of Joy for Big Doses of Happiness
Create a list of little joys, and choose one to do every single day.
Like a tiny gift to yourself that you can savour.
These don’t have to be long, involved tasks. They don’t need to take much time.
They might include things like:
reading 2 pages of a book or a poem
dancing to your favourite song
lying with your eyes closed for 5 minutes
eating your favourite treat
having a shower with a luxurious shower gel
The key is to make sure that however long it takes, there are no distractions, and you can savour the moment. Really focus in on yourself and make it your moment. Even a few minutes will have beneficial effects over time.
3. Don't do more to be productive: Do Less Better
You wouldn’t be alone in feeling that you have to be busy all the time. But time spent doing things efficiently is better than time wasted mindlessly doing.
You need to get organised. Decide every day what your purpose is and what you want the outcome of any activity to be. Work towards that intention. Be stern with yourself. Don’t allow yourself to split focus and do more than you need to. Even though that’s very tempting.
When I work with life coaching clients, they very rarely do too little.
Instead, they tend to give themselves huge daunting goals.
The upshot of this is that they feel over-phased. Then they avoid and procrastinate. If that sounds like you (I mean, doesn’t that sound like everyone?) remember that all destinations are reached one step at a time. So never focus on more than a couple of steps ahead.
Give yourself small tasks. And don’t do too many of them in one go. It may sound counter-intuitive, but once my clients stop thinking that they have to be hugely ambitious with what they achieve every day, they start getting things done much more easily.
So manage your energy to feel better and (counter-intuitive, I know) get more done.
For those of you that find your mood dampened in September, next week’s post will tell you how you can keep your spirits up.
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My name is Jodie Lamb. I am a certified Life Coach with 12 years of life coaching experience. I provide online life coaching, and online career coaching through Trevnee Coaching which I founded in 2020.
You can book a free consultation with me here.
If you are thinking about making a lifestyle change, job change, or career change; are a freelancer or small business owner; or have recently been promoted to a leadership role I can help you find meaning and purpose and to plan effectively and get the satisfying and fulfilling life you want, your way.