Cleaning up after the snow break

February 22, 2010

You have been away from your office for a few days, or for a vacation, or dealing with some other set of circumstances that took you out of your regular routine. Now you are getting back to the office, or back home, and back to the routine. What do you do about everything that wasn’t done?

Are you one of those people who will be scrambling to ‘catch up’? Do you hit your office feeling like you are already hopelessly behind? Does it look like you will never catch up on all the work that piled up in your absence? Are you tired and stressed out already?

You’re not alone, and it doesn’t have to go that way!

What if, instead of diving in to all the work that piled up (or the chores, or whatever it is for you), you recognized that you were going to walk into a potential huge mess and made the appropriate plans? Have you ever considered giving yourself what Jack Canfield calls a buffer day?

Many of us think that they way to get back on top of things is to just dive in, and plow through as much as we can, as fast as we can. Sometimes that works, but more often it leaves you worn out, frustrated, and anxious – waiting for the other shoe to drop or for whatever you are not getting to to blow up.

What if you gave yourself time to bring everything back into existence? Time to review everything that is there and re-assess the relative importance of all that you have to do? Most likely what was really important 10 days ago might not be at the top of the pile, and something that wasn’t even on your radar 10 days ago has the potential to become a real problem if it isn’t dealt with quickly.

Here’s an example for you. Two years ago, I took a 10 day vacation to Ireland with my brother and sister. It was a fabulous trip, and I was really on vacation. I didn’t check my email while I was gone, and I had not set my phone up to work over there either. I knew the power of truly taking time off. (My brother and sister, on the other hand, were checking their email at every hotel we checked into. Not that there was anything they were going to be able to do, but they felt they had to check.)

Before I left for Ireland, I had set up my first two days back as buffer days. I was going to use these two days to unpack, restock the fridge, get settled in, and review everything that came in while I was gone. When I turned on my email, there were 893 new messages waiting for me. (You are already cringing, aren’t you?) But, I wasn’t fazed at all. I had set aside the time to sort through all of it. And, I was completely caught up with all that email before lunch!

When I really ‘went back to work’ the next day – I was very clear what needed to be done, and what my priorities were, and I was also up to speed on everything that had happened during my absence. No stress, no exhaustion, and no anxiety about any hidden crisis.

Give yourself the gift of time – set aside time to just review everything you are working on, get yourself up to speed on current status and priorities, then dive in!

I guarantee you will be focused in the right direction, and you will be proactive rather than reactive with your colleagues, clients, and projects.

Because, really, without a life, what’s the point?


How do you handle a blizzard?

February 17, 2010

You have done the thinking, and the planning. You have even looked ahead to anticipate as many of the breakdowns as you can see.

Then you are hit with a blizzard. And it doesn’t matter if the blizzard is a literal blizzard of snow, or you get very sick, or someone you work with or rely on isn’t available for an extended period of time, the servers crash, or your company downsizes and everyone is left with 3 times the work.

The impact is the same – all plans tend to go out the window (at least for a short time) while everyone goes into disaster recovery mode.

What do you do?

One colleague was considering the week long weather related shut down we are in the middle of as a blessing in disguise. She took the unexpected bonus of days off to tackle the pile of financial aid forms and applications for her daughter who is getting ready to go off to college. Sounds like a good plan, right?

Except, after 4 days alternately working on forms, shoveling snow, and being on conference calls – she is absolutely exhausted! She is going to need a break from this break!

How often do you find yourself in the same place? You work your butt off all week long, and when the weekend comes it is just more of the same? You are faced with all the accumulated chores that you were too tired or too busy to deal with during the week? So you throw yourself into the chores, only to be completely tapped out when Monday morning comes around?

What happened to the weekend? What happened to time to rest?

Have you noticed that approaching true time off – down time – rest time – from the mindset of “as soon as I finish X I will take some time for myself” never seems to work? Why? Because as soon as you finish that task there are hundreds more waiting for your attention! Hence – another blizzard.

So – another important part to planning is planning down time. Schedule it. Take it. Honor it. Even if it is just 15 minutes to make and drink a cup of tea, or 30 minutes cuddling up with a warm blanket and a book. Now, go take a short break!

I promise it will make a huge difference!

Because, really, without a life, what’s the point?

What do you do with a snow day?

February 3, 2010

You have made your plans, set up your calendar, set your sights on the goal, and you are ready to GO!

Then, it snows, your kids get sick, you get sick, there’s an accident tying up traffic on the highway, the dog eats your report and the computer dies.

What do you do?

Do you react? Or, do you respond?

Well, it might depend on how thorough your planning has been. Did you take the time to brainstorm all the possible courses of action? Did you look at what the most likely road blocks could be? Have you thought through how you are going to deal with the breakdown that will always happen?

Or, did you map out your route and set off on your way without thinking about any kind of disaster planning?

If the former – then most likely you will have already figured out your response to the weather, traffic, ill health, or any other breakdown you can think of. And you will be confidently moving along the alternate route – correcting and adjusting as you go.

If the latter – you are going to react! And your first reaction is going to be that this is just wrong! This shouldn’t have happened! Your plans are in shambles! YIKES! You might even come to a full stop.

Kids will get sick, pipes will burst, team members will drop the ball, you will get stuck in traffic. Taking a little time and thinking about what could take your plans off course will pay off in the long run.

Life happens! What’s your plan b (c, d, or e)?

Because, really, without a life, what’s the point?

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