As I write this post, my children are completing their first week of school at a new school in a new state, and they have adjusted quite well, alhamdullilah. Children are amazingly resilient. My husband is still in Atlanta getting our house painted and repaired so that we can rent it out, insha’Allah. That means the kids and I have been going it alone. Although there were a few stressful moments, I feel happy about everything we’ve managed to accomplish.
Getting the kids ready for a new school year caused me to reflect on my business with new eyes. The summer months are typically slower fro my copywriting and resume writing businesses, which was welcomed this year since we were preparing for the move. I typically see things pick up for both businesses around September, so taking time to reflect on the progress and plans for each business was definitely in order. I took inspiration from some of the things parents do to prepare their children to go back to school and came up with a few back-to-school tips for your business:
Prepare the night before
I prepare as much for the school day the night before as I can. I prepare lunches and uniforms at night, and we make sure backpacks are all packed and ready to go so that getting ready and out the door the next day goes smoothly.
I take this tip and apply it to my business by doing things like writing my to-do list the evening before each work day. I also take time to organize my desk after work. I used to just leave everything as it was at the end of the day telling myself I’d clean it before I started work the next day. Most of the time I didn’t clean it because I’d jump right into my work day which meant at the end of the day it was messier than the day before. I’d also have trouble finding pens, notes and documents. Taking time to make sure my work area is clean before the next work day helps me stay organized.
Take advantage of back to school sales and stock up on supplies for the year
Most school provide parents with a list of the school supplies their child will need. You can find some incredible deals on things like notebooks, loose leaf paper, pencil boxes crayons, pens, markets, binders and so much more. I encourage you to look through a Sunday newspaper flyer near the time that school starts in your area. I found quite a few deals at Staples, Office Depot, Walgreens and Kroger (yes, the grocery store!) for pennies on the dollar! I try to wait until the no tax weekend to do my shopping to further maximize the savings.
While I’m gathering supplies for the kids, this is usually the time of year when I realize that my own office supplies are dwindling. It makes sense to take advantage of these sales and stock my office as well. I can never seem to have enough spiral notebooks, pens and copier paper.
I can go a little crazy buying supplies for my office – especially with price tags like $.05, $.15 and $1.00, but it adds up quickly. I always take inventory and shop with a list to keep my spending under control.
Establish a schedule a couple of weeks before school starts
We slacken up (slightly…) on the bedtime schedule during the summer. It’s a bit unrealistic for me to suddenly expect the children to go to sleep earlier to wake up earlier when their bodies have spent a month and a half on a different schedule. I try to gradually get them back on their school time sleep and waking schedule two to three weeks before school starts so that it’s not such a brutal shock to their systems.
I’m naturally a night owl, but during the school year I wake much earlier to get my work day started – before everyone else in the house awakes. Although I can’t exactly get back to my full work day schedule until the kids are back in school, I can work on adjusting my own sleep schedule by getting up at least an hour before fajr and staying up after making prayer. That quiet time is a wonderful time for brainstorming, reflection and handling tasks that require intense concentration.
Create a schedule and keep a family calendar
Kids thrive when they have a routine, and a routine comes in handy when they return to school and are juggling other extra curricular activities like sports and weekly classes at the masjid. A family calendar will help you keep track of scheduled parent teacher meetings, PTA meetings, doctor, dentists and other appointments.
When you work from home the lines between personal time and work time often blur. A work schedule can help you achieve better productivity. A calendar can help you manage work-related and family events. For instance, if you’ve been thinking of taking a webinar on Using Social Media to Market your Business Wednesday at 12pm, a glance at the family calendar might reveal that you already have an appointment scheduled to take little Muhammad for his yearly eye exam at the same time. I use a reusable calendar that uses white board markers so I just clean it off to start a new month.
As you can see, much of what you do to prepare our children for a new school year can also benefit your home business.