A wise woman recently suggested that when I plan a vacation, I also plan for how I’m going to weather those first few stressful days after we arrive back in the real world—you know, those days when the house is trashed, the kids suddenly need a million doctor appointments and shopping runs to prepare for school, and everyone you’ve ever worked with wants to speak with you at the same time. How do you prepare for the stress and chaos?
I didn’t manage to make this re-entry plan before setting out on my trip, but it’s been on my mind ever since. Little by little, a plan is taking shape. I thought I’d share my ideas with you—and let you know how things turn out when I get back next week.
Strategy 1: Stepwise Re-entry
Instead of returning to everything at once, I’m going to reenter my “normal” world one area at a time. For instance:
Day 1: Deal with unpacking, laundry, and other details of moving back into a house…WITHOUT giving in to the urge to check and answer emails, sort mail, prioritize projects, and so on.
Day 2: First pass through email, mail, and other “In boxes”. Reveal my return to work colleagues :). Update my list of current projects and decide what’s top of the list.
Strategy 2: Pick Top Projects/Priorities
I have a tendency to try to tackle every important and urgent item simultaneously—a tendency that seriously backfires when I’ve been on a break, because suddenly EVERYTHING is important and urgent. My goal here is to trust that the world will not end if I mail out a query a week later than planned.
Strategy 3: Have a House Meeting
My husband and I try to have weekly house meetings, kinda like the staff meeting in a business. It gives us a chance to take care of administrivia, share schedules for the upcoming week, and catch conflicts before they become a problem. It’s also a time for discussing everything from what movies we want to see to how to tackle the latest parenting dilemma to what kind of car best suits the family’s needs.
A regular house meeting gets the two of us working in the same direction, toward the same goals.
These meetings are most important when life gets crazy-busy, which is also when we’re most likely to skip them—but this time, I’m making sure a meeting gets on our schedule!
Strategy 4: Plan Breaks and Rewards
My overall goal here is to avoid post-vacation burnout (or catatonia). Reducing the amount of work I tackle each day (above) will help; it will also help to plan a few no-work zones into the days. Here’s what I’m going to try: no work after 9:00 pm, at which point I may indulge in a book, piece of chocolate, or glass of wine. Or maybe all three.
Strategy 5: Anticipate Setbacks
This isn’t a strategy specific to vacation re-entry, but it’s one I need to remember. If I anticipate setbacks, it’s easier to deal with them and move on. Things won’t go perfectly. Transitions are always tricky, in writing and in life. But we’ll get through.
I’ll let you know how it goes!