I have just returned from a mid-week break and am feeling great. I spent a little while reviewing my personal values and made a few discoveries. But those are for another time. The main thrust of this blog is to address how we get back into work.
After a period of leave, how do you feel at the thought of going back?
Do you look forward to re-engaging with your projects and your colleagues – and customers? Are you excited at the thought of new challenges? Can you wait to find out what you’ve missed?
Or do you dread the emails, the memoranda, the buck-passes, the mess you left before you went away? (And some of the people?)
Notwithstanding the many issues that affect our attitude to work and the many factors that might cause us distress (as opposed to eustress, which is ‘good’), there is one element of a return to work that most people dislike, and that is having to catch up with the mess we left behind. A pile of outstanding incompletes, as author Jack Canfield would put it. And if you look at it objectively, a large portion of incompletes is – your own fault.
Many people, faced with a leave period or even a job change, do something that the stressed and disorganised tend to avoid.
They tidy up before they go. Not just the desk, but every incomplete that they can finalise before leaving. They spend the last tour of duty making sure that as many ‘I’s are dotted and ‘T’s are crossed as they can. They are able to put in a massive effort because they know that completed or managed work won’t bite them on the bum on their return.
Extremely well organised people, on the other hand, do not wait until the day before they go on holiday to organise their work in a huge, almost panicked effort. Oh no.
Extremely well organised people pretty much carry out that level of personal task management at the end of every single day. Any minor matters that can be finalised before they go home for dinner is topped and tailed daily. They don’t have to worry about coming back to a pile of incompletes as big as yours. Their pile, if it exists at all, is teeny weeny. And the same goes when they come back from extended leave periods. They’re on top of things in no time at all because they were on top of things not only when they went – but all of the time. And it takes a lot less effort than the ‘last day panic’.
Time management may be a cliché these days, like ‘journey’ (Oh how I hate that word). But well executed personal management massively impacts your levels of stress. Paperwork creates stress (even though it won’t actually bite you – paper cuts aside) but managed paperwork creates a lot less if you keep on top of it as you go, not after you come back.
Learn how to manage yourself in the context of time. It’s the most valuable self-taught ‘thing’ you’ll ever learn.
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