Back to school. Not just for the kids.

This week the kids go back to school, and some (many…), parents will be breathing a large sigh of relief. You’ll no doubt see plenty of wonderful posts of freshly scrubbed and shiny cherubs heading off on their big adventure – mine included – but for the first time since (ahem), 1996, this is a ‘back to school’ day for me too. Why’s that? I took some time, just for thinking, in August. 

Why August? Isn’t New Year the best time to reset and set new objectives? Well, there’s a good school of thought that says that January is the worst possible time to take stock and review. But the summer seems to work much better. 

Yes, quite a lot of that time was holiday, some well-needed time with the family, unwinding with some sun and some surf, but a good chunk wasn’t about recovery, it was there to allow some space away from the day-to-day to consider the future and to build the strategy that Tonic will follow in the coming months.

But, it wasn’t easy. In fact it felt quite odd. Particularly having ‘grown up’ in a working environment where being in, meant, well, being in. But, the time out has paid dividends. So, some quick thoughts if you’re considering doing something similar later this year, or perhaps next summer:

  • Its’s not easy. It’s not a slackers choice. When we spend so much time responding to others, dragging thoughts out of your own brain is harder, the muscle atrophies. It’s harder than you might think! 
  • Be prepared to have a butterfly mind. You’ll flit from topic to topic and that’s fine. It’s how we’re programmed to be day-to-day. But stick with it, and you’ll find that your concentration is in there, somewhere. 
  • You absolutely must carve out space to do this. A day of thinking time in the office, won’t be anything like you hope it will be, and neither will the equivalent time at home. You need decent time, and space that takes you out of your normal working environment.
  • Have a plan. And stick to it. Know what you’re going to do, why you’re doing it, and then just crack on. No excuses. Know what you’re setting out to achieve and selfishly pursue that.
  • Think about how the space that you’ve gained, makes positive change for the long-term. And, get ready to report back. Especially if you work with, or for, others. The output and outcomes are critical to make the time well-spent. It’ll keep you honest and show the value to your business. 

Some may say that everyday is a school day, I’d also say that back to school isn’t just for the children. But, to have that feeling, you have to have taken some time out to recharge and refresh your mind. If it worked for me it may work for you. I’ll certainly be encouraging our team to use the flexibility that we’ve baked into our culture, to do something similar. 

So, watch out world, I’ve got my new stationery, my shoes are shined and I’m raring to go. Next year I’ll do the same. Perhaps you could too? 

Tom Chesterton – September ’19

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