5 ways to make the most of that back-to-school feeling you have right now

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No matter how long ago you left school, September always feels like a fresh start – here’s how to make the most of your post-summer motivation… 

For most people, January is the time to set good intentions, try to form good habits and generally get organised… but nine months down the line, how many of your goals are you still sticking to?

If you’re anything like us, the answer is probably none, but fear not, because September is actually the perfect time of year to reboot your positive mindset.

“Summer offers us opportunities to relax and reset – whether that’s through holidays, time outdoors or simply a change to our routine,” explains Dr Kate Daley, Clinical Lead at Unmind.

“With children returning to school and a new season starting, it feels like a time of transition. It’s a great time to set new goals to give us purpose and zest for the season ahead.”

So from kicking your career up a notch to sorting out your stationery, here are five ways to take advantage of the ‘back to school’ feeling you’re experiencing right now. 

  • 1. Check in with your career goals

    Most of us set career goals at the start of the year, but as autumn rolls in and a new burst of motivation reveals itself, why not check in with how you’re progressing, or set new goals to end the year on a high?

    These don’t need to be huge: even small wins, or habits that you work into your everyday routine, can help keep you feeling on that upward track.

    One important thing to remember is to not overwhelm yourself.

    “Don’t try to get a promotion, learn Spanish and become the new office mentor, but rather look for one thing you really want to crack, and go for it,” suggests career coach Natalie Trice

    “Keep that one goal in mind, write down what it is you want to achieve and take one small step each day towards achieving it, just as you would with that homework diary at school that kept you on track.”

  • 2. Plan out a project

    Whether you’ve been meaning to re-paint the kitchen or have been dreaming of writing a novel, now’s the time to seize the initiative and stop putting it off.

    And the first step of any successful project? Jotting down a proper plan.

    “September is the chance to open a new notebook and start from a blank page – literally,” says Elisa Nardi, founder and CEO of professional mentoring company Eniteo.

    Instead of a lined notebook, Elisa suggests a blank version so that you can mind map.

    “Mind maps can help you distil the essence of whatever it is you’re trying to achieve – whether you’re trying to write a presentation or working out how to tile a bathroom.

    “They’re less structured than lists, and using single words, pictures and colours can be much more free-flowing than constructing long-form sentences – it’s a fantastic way to anchor and connect important information.”

    With a 3-for-2 offer across all stationery, Paperchase is the perfect place to stock up on all your mind-mapping supplies without breaking the bank.

    From highlighters to notepads, sticky notes to fountain pens, you’ll find everything you need to get your next project off the ground. 

  • 3. Take stock of your social life

    Summer is usually a season packed with BBQs, weddings and last-minute drinks, but with the pandemic continuing to bite, and the weather being frankly dismal, your social life has probably been in better shape.

    That’s why September is a great time to reach out to all those mates you’ve been meaning to catch up with.

    Richard Evans, career coach at The Profs, suggests doing just that by diving into a month of ‘yes’.

    “Plan a month in which you tell your nearest and dearest that you will say ‘yes’ to every social invite you receive from them,” he explains.

    “Let them know that you’re available and open to all kinds of plans and see what happens.”

    It might take some effort to begin with, particularly if you’ve grown used to being a bit of a hermit, but if you’re looking to kick-start your social life, better to jump in with both feet… 

  • 4. Work on your wellness

    On the flipside, if you spent your summer cramming in plans that left your social battery depleted, September is the time to start looking after number one.

    Do whatever supports your mental health, whether that’s getting on top of life admin, referring yourself for therapy or carving out half an hour a week for yoga.

    “If you look after yourself, you have more for everyone else, so schedule time for yourself into every day,” advises Dr. Audrey Tang, chartered psychologist and author of The Leader’s Guide To Resilience.

    “Making that commitment to yourself is as important as your commitments to others. Even if it’s just drinking a cup of tea, clearing some headspace will also help you be more effective when you release the pause button.” 

  • 5. Push yourself

    Lockdown malaise was a very real sensation, and even with things unlocking, it can be hard to shake off that sense of lethargy. So how can we pull ourselves out of that mental rut?

    Well, according to Avantika Vaishnav, Marketing Manager at careers website Debut, trying to learn a new skill can be hugely beneficial for both your confidence and your resilience.

    “If you’ve not been firing on all cylinders at work or have been feeling generally uninspired, learning a new skill can pull you out of that headspace,” he explains.

    “With shorter days and darker weekends approaching, a fresh challenge like taking on a new gym class or trying to learn a language can flip any feelings of negativity on their head, making you see September as a time of reinvention, rather than an ending.”

    You might not feel like pushing yourself, but the sense of reward attached to developing a skill could be just the tonic you need to ensure you finish the year on a high.

Ready to get productive this autumn? With a 3-for-2 offer currently running across all stationery, Paperchase is the perfect place to load up on all your home-office supplies and get that fresh-start feeling. Find your nearest store here.