The Surprising 'Back to School' Boost

One study finds that fall is a remarkably productive time for workers.


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It's the first week of September, which can only mean one thing: back-to-school season is in full effect.For many students, this is a time of renewal-new sneakers, new teachers, and new opportunities for learning. It's a chance to hit the reset button and set fresh goals for the year ahead.

But it's not just approximately 57 million US students who experience the back-to-school awakening. According to a study by data-analysis company Priceonomics, professionals are more productive in September, October, and November compared to any other time of year. The reason? Fall is the last opportunity many of us have to hit our year-end targets. So if you're still feeling stuck in a late-summer slump, here's how you can prep yourself to ace the rest of 2019 and hit the ground running in 2020.

If you're part of the 83% of people who expect an annual bonus, you're going to want to start making your case for the cash now.

Get a confidence-boosting outfit.

Whether you're gunning for a promotion or just want to feel at the top of your game for your upcoming client presentation, refresh your wardrobe this fall. The way you dress affects the way you feel, the way others perceive you, and even your abstract-thinking abilities. "A new blouse or dress or a great pair of shoes can give us a boost of energy," says Gabrielle Bill, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance. And you don't necessarily have to go out and buy something: a good purge of your closet may unearth some forgotten gems.

Prepare for your performance review now.

For a lot of companies, performance reviews come at the end of the year. If you're part of the 83% of people who expect an annual bonus, you're going to want to start making your case for the cash now. Consider meeting with your boss once or twice over the next couple of months to share your accomplishments and vision for the next year. "Requests for a raise or discussions about a promotion tend to yield the best results when the seeds have been planted over time with your manager," Bill says. If professional development becomes a routine conversation topic and not something that you bring up out of the blue, your boss will feel prepared to go to bat for you with the higher-ups once the formal time arrives.

Take yourself to school.

Whether you take advantage of your company's educational reimbursement plan or simply sign up for a membership with an online-learning platform, fall is the perfect time to learn something new. After all, using your brain in new ways can help you strengthen your learning agility-the ability to know what to do when you don't know what to do-and that skill is the number one determinant of a person's earnings for life, according to Korn Ferry research. Even pursuing something that doesn't directly relate to your job-like art or a musical instrument-helps you see the world in a different way and can spark new ideas that you bring back to the office.

Talk to a career coach.

Just as you'd hire a personal trainer to help you jump-start your fitness goals and hold you accountable, working with a coach is a great way to level up your career. A career coach can help you prioritize your goals, figure out what changes will make the biggest impact, and craft your performance story. "Coaching is empowering and effective, but it is a process that takes time and commitment to see results," Bill says.

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