Tim Clay and I had a long chat yesterday evening. We were catching up after the holidays and talking about getting back in the saddle.
Holidays – Christmas, of course, and vacations and even long weekends seem to have an almost magical power to disrupt our brains. Really.
How often have you found your self slacking off on the day before a vacation? And you know we all take off early from that last day in the office – even when the office is right there in the house!
Then there’s the first day back. Ugh. Even when I’m writing – and I truly enjoy writing – it’s still sometimes hard to get back in the saddle. But I do have a couple of suggestions.
One that works great for finishing up well before the holiday is setting “cutoff” points for projects.
What you do is look at everything you have going. Then decide on a “cutoff” point for each item. The important part – what really works well for me – is making the cutoff point at a spot where the job is really only three quarters done.
Keep in mind that I generally have only two or three projects genuinely active – others are just in the planning stages. And this does NOT apply to any work you are doing for clients. Make sure all the stuff you are doing for clients is wrapped up neatly before you go. It doens’t have to be finished, but clients like things clean and tidy.
That I have only two or three projects going at a time is important because of what happens when I get back from vacation.
You see, when I leave things just a little bit undone, it builds excitement for me to come back and finish them. It also makes me feel just a little bit sly and clever – knowing I’m using a good strategy.
Then, when I get back, my first day starts off with being able to wrap up those two or three tasks very easily. Starting off with successes, and that feeling of accomplishment is a great way to get back in the saddle.
The other thing that I’ve found hugely helpful for when I get back from a holiday is being realistic about the time involved.
Think about it – how often have you gotten back from a trip, gone straight to work the next day, and been bummed out because you know you have to go home to unpack, do laundry, buy groceries, and a hundred other details to look after. (Even writing about it is heavy and clunky.)
What do you do? Simple. Plan one day for the end of the holiday.
That one day at the end is for unpacking, laundry, groceries, and all the other minutae ($0.25 word for the day) that goes with getting home. Think of it as getting the saddle, blanket and bridle then putting it all on the horse.
You have to do all that before you get into the saddle, right?
So that’s it. When it comes to the Christmas holidays, you have this weekend to put things in order and get ready to go back to work.
Take a few minutes Sunday afternoon to sit down and write out two or three things you’ll do when you get back to work. That will help get you back into the saddle quickly this time. Then you can use the suggestions given here for your next holiday.
Let me know how they work for you.