The kids have headed back to school, the weather has started to turn cooler (in some parts of the world), and we’ve begun the downhill slide to the holidays. (It’s never too early to start talking about those!) All of these are subtle hints that summer is coming to a close, and “summer vacation” is officially over.

As I traveled around the last few months, I saw lots of families on the planes, which was a welcome sight. It’s nice to see people taking some time out of their fast-paced lives to recharge the batteries and spend quality time with their loved ones. I hope you were one of those people.

But now it’s time to put those recharged batteries to work and plow though your in-box. I know, I know, it’s oh-so-hard to get back into the swing of things. But think of it this way: The more you do now, the more time you can take off during the holidays. If that doesn’t motivate you, we have a couple more ideas to help you out.

One possible source of inspiration is to don the backpack and head back to school. There’s nothing like homework and a few pop quizzes to remind you how great it is to work for a living. But stick around the classroom awhile and you can pick up a few handy tips that will make you a star around the office. Where do you start? With our special Executive Education Section, of course. We talk to some successful corporate types about the pros and cons of getting an MBA, as well as look at the latest philosophies and buzzwords coming out of management schools and seminars. Whether you want to get the full-on degree, or just learn the latest tricks of the trade, these stories will point you in the right direction.

If you’d rather just have the backpack and not the homework, take a look at the back-to-school selections in our Trends section. These are geared more towards what the kids want, but you’ll probably find an item or two to claim as your own.

And to ensure you adults don’t feel left out, we’ve put together a super-fancy, fold-out story on laptops . Our expert did the shopping for you and came up with the best ones for home and the best ones for travel. Who knows, you might just end up with one of each. And there’s nothing like new toys to make work more fun.

If none of this works, I’m afraid there may be no help for you. (I’m only kidding, of course.) It probably just means that you didn’t get to take a much-needed summer vacation and are now paying the price. So you’ll just have to live vicari­ously through our cover guy Bernie Mac , and take a tour of Chicago with him. It’s the second-best thing to actually being there.

So start reading and get inspired. You have less than 100 days to get your desk in order in time for Thanksgiving.

Picture of Sheri Burns

SHERRI GULCZYNSKI BURNS
Editor