4 Lessons to Help You Transition from Summer into Autumn
Ah, Summer! I love you so much and then, just like that, at the end of August I'm ready for you to be over. While I love the longer, warmer days, by Labor Day weekend my whole family is ready for the more predictable routine. Plus all their birthdays are in Autumn, so there's that to look forward to also! The nights are cooler, I'm eyeing the cozy sweaters in my closet, and pumpkin spice everything is already back on the Starbuck's menu. Yum!
But before we plunge into September, here's a look back at the previous 90 days and 4 important lessons I learned. Even as the days are already getting darker, I hope they help you transition into Autumn feeling lighter and freer.
1 | Something new and scary might be the best thing.
"New and scary" looks different for everyone. For me, the scary thing was acupuncture, but it has been an absolute Godsend.
As someone who works for long hours at the computer, my neck and shoulders suffer. You too? I've been to a massage therapist many times, but this Spring two massages left me in more pain, terribly bruised, and with no relief in sight. Those tense muscles did NOT want to release. My therapist, obviously wanting the best results for me, asked if I had ever tried acupuncture. No, but I was willing to give it a shot because is was recommended by someone I knew and trusted.
Short version: it has been the BEST THING EVER! It was not as creepy and needle-y as I thought and brought instant relief. Plus you get to sit under a heat lamp for 30 minutes so what's not to love? I've continued going every several weeks and it gets better each time. I won't bore you with all the details, but if you're curious, send me an email and I'd be happy to talk shop.
Is there something you've been afraid to try? Now might be the best time to give it a shot!
2 | Get help where you can; hire help if needed.
If you're a small business owner like me or a full-time working woman, you've probably had many well-intentioned people tell you to hire help. What they often don't tell you is what that actually looks like. Late last Spring, I realized that there were 3 areas where I could get help and alleviate some of the stress that was building up during a very full season of work and family life.
Help #1: In the Kitchen
We usually think that "help" equals "hiring someone in exchange for pay" but that's not always the case. The first help I got came unexpectedly from my 15-year-old daughter who started doing more of something that she already enjoyed—cooking dinner several nights a week. I noticed on the weeks when I had a meal plan posted on a tiny dry erase board on our fridge and had done the grocery shopping so all the ingredients were on hand, she was happy to help. After a few dinners, she would even start cooking without telling me.
We also have a house rule that whoever cooks doesn't have to clean up, so even though she really does like cooking, she's also eager to leave the cleanup to her younger sister. Her assistance gives me an extra 45 minutes to wrap up work at the end of the day. Maybe you don't have a budding chef in your home, but don't be too quick to dismiss other areas where someone could help and give you a bit more wiggle room. Perhaps you don't really have to do it all yourself!
Help #2: In my Closet
The first person I “hired for pay” was my friend Rada. We met through an online business course but also happen to live in the same city. Rada is a Style Coach and an absolute delight. I had successfully Konmari-ed my closet at the beginning of 2019. (You remember the craze, right?) But after the bags were carted off to the thrift store, I was still left with an uncertainty that I didn't know what I was doing, didn't know if some of the items that "sparked joy" fit correctly or were even in style anymore, and often felt really awkward when I was trying to put together outfits. I had hit a point where my business was growing and I was having more in-person meetings with clients and colleagues but feeling less and less confident.
Enter Rada, and suffice it to say it was a worthwhile investment and piles of fun to boot! The end result is more time, ease, and knowledge with less stress and more confidence. I'm even wearing my black leather pants that have been gathering dust in my closet for over 10 years. My teen daughters think it's hilarious when I wear them. I feel like a million bucks!
Help #3: In my Business Systems
My second hire was someone to help me with my Client Relationship Management software (CRM for short). I use a paid program called Dubsado to handle most administrative tasks in my business—proposals, contracts, invoices, scheduling, proofs, feedback, follow up. The problem: I wasn't using it to its full capacity, so when work was at its busiest, I was spending hours each week manually doing things that I knew my CRM could do on autopilot. But at that point, I didn't know how to do all the fiddly setup and I didn't have time to learn how.
Enter Liz, an online business manager and Dubsado wiz who was able to whip my CRM into shape. I hired her to tackle this one major project that was hanging like a monkey on my back. We've just wrapped up the final touches, and it will free up so much time that I can now spend on more crucial areas of my business. Plus it will enhance what was already a pretty smooth customer experience which is a win for me and my clients!
Notice that both paid hires were on a per-project basis. I'm still not comfortable taking on regular, long-term help, but hiring for these specific tasks has been such a blessing. Plus it allows other women to work in their zone of genius and grow their businesses while I grow mine. So fun!
It's easy to think we can't afford to hire help, so we keep plodding along, stressed out and grumpy. Consider this a gentle nudge to think outside the box and see how and where you could get some support, in your personal life, your business, or both!
3 | Quit checking email first thing in the morning.
Seriously. Yes, I'm one of those people who uses my iPhone as an alarm. I also use it for my morning meditation and reading so it's literally the first thing I pick up. The little red dot glares at me every morning. I used to check it quickly until I realized that it wasn't serving me AT ALL. It was distracting and sometimes stressful, and I realized there was no point in reading email until I could do something productive about it—namely when I was sitting at my desk, ready to start work, not making toast and making sure we don't miss the school bus. All the morning emails were either completely irrelevant anyway (90%) or issues that needed my full attention (10%), but nothing was so important that it had to be dealt with before 9 am.
This has allowed me to start the day in a way that's best for me through personal time alone and taking care of my family so that I can then do my best work when it's time. I'm not perfect at this; occasionally I tap that darn icon, but I'm winning more than losing and with every successful day I know I'm paying attention to what I need to in each moment.
Is there an automatic morning habit that's constantly starting your day on the wrong foot? Perhaps it's time to claim some white space and reevaluate what's serving you and what isn't.
Which brings me to the last lesson...
4 | Delete time-sucking apps from your smartphone.
Three weeks ago, I deleted Facebook and LinkedIn from my iPhone. Yup, you read that right.
Notice I didn't delete my accounts; I simply removed the mindless-scrolling, time-sucking, ever-present option. I didn't even think about it too much—just ripped the bandaid off. This came as a result of reading Cal Newport's fantastic book "Deep Work" (highly recommend!) and my own growing uneasiness with so much wasted time. Now when I want to engage in either platform, I have to do it from my computer which gives me more intention and a shorter amount of focused time.
Full disclosure: This is a recent change for me after returning from vacation, so we'll see how long it lasts. Surprisingly, it hasn't been an issue yet. If I were to go out of town, I'd reload it on my phone because I use both platforms for work and I don't travel with my 21" iMac! That's the good thing with these apps—you can delete and reload if the withdrawal is unmanageable.
Go ahead and try it. Figure out where you're wasting time and do something about it. I double-dog dare you!
There you have it. In all 4 cases, these changes have helped me feel lighter and freer which, in my books, is a great way to wrap up Summer and launch into Autumn. It's so easy to feel like Summer was the "free time" and September is back to work and drudgery. It doesn't have to be that way!
What are you bringing into this new season?
Are there things you can add, delete, or get more support with? In many ways, September 1 feels more like “New Year” than January 1 does. So I hope you’re filled with all the excitement and expectation of the new year as we begin a new season!