I usually get a little off kilter during summer. School is out. Kids everywhere are under foot and looking for things to do. Vacation mode sets in, even if I didn't get to go anywhere. If you have kids and they're anything like mine, they are asking for rides everywhere. I spend a lot of my work time in my home office, and my kids like to think I'm an on-call taxi service. Their eyes glaze over when I try to explain for the umpteenth time how even though I work from home, I need to keep certain hours to take care of my business.

So what do you do when Summer Madness has created chaos in your productivity? The transition to Autumn (or any new season), is a great time to take stock and get your life back into focus. You can do this by acknowledging, defining and affirming your sense of purpose in life, by building a daily structure of action, and by strengthening your external network of support.

Your Life Purpose

A sense of purpose is the backbone of everything you do. It adds vitality and meaning to the smallest elements of your work. It defines your path in life, and the decisions you make. Your purpose stems from your vision of who you want to be and what you want to have done with your life. If you are an entrepreneur, make sure your business plan is designed around your purpose and core values.

It is important to take time every now and then to reconnect with your purpose. The transition to each new season is an easy time to establish this practice. During stressful periods in life, you may need to revisit it more often.

Build a Daily Structure of Action

Now that you have reminded yourself of your purpose, you can make sure you have the foundation in place to build your personal and work life around it. Some of the main building blocks include organizational systems and time management, a specific agenda for daily actions, and a commitment to overall well-being.

Organization is an important component of your support structure. Searching for information in a disorganized office uses valuable time and energy. Dealing with clutter on your desk or your workspace is an invitation to fragmentation of your focus. Spend some time getting your work space in a state that honors who you are and what you're trying to accomplish in your work. Make it a priority to find an organization system that makes sense to you. If this isn't your strength, ask people what works well for them, or hire a personal organization coach. I'll come back to time management.

Another big piece in your foundation is a framework of daily actions you take to fulfill your purpose. This is not a list of resolutions, but a specific and do-able list of things that will keep you focused and on the right path.

Before you make your list, let's look at one more piece of this structure: valuing your sense of well-being. When you are well, fulfilled, and focused on a purpose, you give your absolute best to all that you do. Your wellbeing includes a sense of creativity and fun. When you devote space in your life to replenish your energy, you give of yourself from a sense of abundance.

So having said this, let's now revisit time management and developing your action framework. Make a list of the things you want to do to keep your work healthy and productive. If you are really good at dealing with the tasks that come at you, but fall short on the planning getting the really important tasks done, allow time weekly for development and planning. Make time as well for dreaming and visualizing your livelihood as you want it to look, feel, and work for you. Add to it your list of things that keep you healthy and growing. Also add the things from other aspects of your life such as family and your social network.

I have two tips for building a structure you can stick with and actually do every day. The first is to look at what you're currently doing and measure it against your purpose and overall vision. Most people I work with in this area have several things they do that either don't support their purpose, or are things they could easily and appropriately delegate to others or hire out.

The second tip is to focus on making this do-able. For instance, if part of what you're trying to do is integrate more physical exercise into your schedule, start small and choose activities you really like. Varying your activities holds your interest and maintains a high state of energy. When I decided to add running to my exercise routine, I started with 20 minutes because I knew I would probably not sustain a commitment of much more than that. Now that the habit is established and I'm experiencing the tangible benefits of this routine I find it easier to expand my time commitment gradually, and I have no problem sticking to my initial commitment.

Strengthen Your Support System

So now you're connected to your purpose and you have a great action plan to help you manage your tasks and do your work with a sense of vitality (because you're taking good care of yourself!). Now you need to strengthen your external support for a couple of reasons. First of all, those closest to you need to know about your daily structure and your needs. Your strongest supporters will become your allies to help you stick to your structure. This structure will help you consciuosly take care of your needs and keep you from being distracted by those in your life who may not be aware of what your needs are.

The second reason for strengthening your support system is that being around others, especially those you like and admire, brings out your best, affirms what you're doing, and helps you stay on track. The external relationships you create to support you will keep you from feeling isolated (very important for those of us who work from home). They can give you feedback about how you are doing. They give you opportunities to experience that you are not alone in your particular issues, and you are exposed to ways other people have solved problems similar to yours. Networking is also a great way to stay in touch with the issues facing your community. It provides exposure to opportunities for needs that are unmet and it's a great way to connect with potential clients and business alliances.

For those of us who work from home, being very clear about our daily structural needs is extra critical. Having a daily structure helps me stick to my morning ritual of writing, planning and getting my day started off on the right tone regardless of whether the phone starts ringing off the hook or I have a list full of things needing attention. The time I spend in focusing my day and in tending to my own well-being comes back to me a hundredfold in my ability to prioritize my work, get the important things done, and serve my clients well. And the biggest benefit is it makes me a more patient mother, a more attentive partner to my husband and an emotionally healthier person in the world. So here is the bottom line, something easy to remember as you go through your day:


Author's Bio: 

Sheila Adams, M.A. draws on 16 years in business as entrepreneur, executive, trainer, and coach, to guide you toward living your vision. For more information about workshops, teleclasses, and coaching customized for your success, visit The Learning Edge Coaching web site at www.TheEdgeCoach.com or send email to LiveYourDreams@VibrantWomen.com.