Ah, autumn. The kids have gone back to school and you may have a little more time on your hands. Sure, the holiday rush is coming but it’s several whole months away. There’s a slight chill in the air that makes some of us want to snuggle under the covers with a good book.

For many of us, no matter how long ago school days were, there is still that feeling of Back to School when the weather gets chilly. We remember the smell of new pencils and notebooks and that feeling that anything was possible. We may even feel a strange desire to work harder and to settle down into those things we put off all summer. Instead of shrugging off that feeling, why not use it to better your business?

While you can literally send yourself back to school by signing up for a class (either online or off), there are many wants to tap into the back to school mindset and put yourself on the path to learning without having to go anywhere or spend any money.

Upgrade your reading to upgrade your business
Instead of reaching for the latest novel when you snuggle under the covers, why not read something to help your business? Maybe a book on marketing, branding, customer service or blogging might give you the insight you need to push your business to the next level. Even if you are successful at something and consider yourself an expert, it never hurts to get someone else’s take on a subject and you can learn a lot just from hearing another perspective. A quick trip to the library and you’ll find a wealth of information available in books an magazines without your having to spend a dime. Making some of your leisure reading informative non-fiction can make a big difference.

Not a big reader? Audiobooks and podcasts can give you a wealth of info through your ears.

Do your homework
You may already take the time each day to read a few blogs, but what about all those that look too technical, too much to digest at the moment? Take a few extra hours a day and set aside some time to seek out and carefully read articles that can better your business and will keep you up to date on what is happening in your industry.

Create your own research paper or project
You always wanted to learn WordPress (or podcasting, or marketing with Google Adwords, or CSS, or whatever you’ve always wanted to learn but have been putting off) but you never had the time. Assign it to yourself a research project this month. Commit to finally learning whatever it is by doing not only reading about it in books and blogs but by also applying what you learn directly. There’s no better way to learn podcasting than to actually start a podcast while doing the research, no better way to apply what you learned about WordPress than to start a WordPress blog, etc. Even if you promise yourself it’s just an experiment, it’s much easier and faster to learn something when manifesting what you learned in a hands on way.

Better yet, as you digest the information and learn about the topic, write about it as you would in a research paper. You can post this info in your blog for the benefit of others, sell it later as an ebook or simply keep it for your own notes. Either way, taking the time to write out what you just learned is a proven way to make sure you understand and remember the lesson.

Give yourself due dates
One of the biggest problems with real life is that, unlike school, there are no deadlines. Things are never due so it’s tempting to put them off year after year. While you may not be able to motivate your adult self with gold stars, giving yourself deadlines and pushing yourself to meet them will help you not only to get more done, it will also help you to check off those things on your list that never seem to get done.

How else could we apply the back to school mindset to our businesses?