Why is it that we often regret taking time off work, deciding that it ‘wasn’t worth’ the extra chaos that comes around on our return to the office?
I have always thought that is far better to take more than a two-week block of annual leave at a time. Staff seem to get things done without you – whereas taking a few days here or under a fortnight now and then, result in people waiting for you to get back into the office and leaving urgent emails in your inbox for you to complete as soon as you return. This turns into a firefighting task for you – something I cover off in my Time Management post.
Last weekend I took Friday and Monday annual leave. My Manager was booked in for a surgery earlier in the week, so I knew he would be recovering and I always try to take time off whilst he is out of the office as well. My sister and nieces who live in Melbourne were over for my youngest nieces first birthday and they also threw me a baby shower on the Sunday! I booked in a busy weekend and had a wonderful time, but consequently upon my return to the office, my week was thrown into chaos, catching up on emails, reshuffling calendars based on how my manager was recovering and feeling that day, and completing the usual actions for the week.
Now we are at Friday and things are finally back to normal, however I can’t even remember what happened on Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday passed in the blink of an eye. My week feels in no way productive as all of my ‘nice to haves’: blogging, research, procedure writing, training and personal development has gone out the window!
Whilst it is ok to have these days or weeks every now and then, I can’t imagine being unproductive and frazzled all day every day in the office. Staying on top of things and remembering everything is extremely important to the EA role, but how do you manage this if your world is in chaos.
How do you cope with the stress that comes with the return back to work? I regularly hear people say on their first day back: “What holiday? It’s a distant memory now!”
And not just on holidays, how do you cope with chaos and stress on a day-to-day basis?
My husband and I have been together for a decade, and I feel as though we grew up with each other, given we spent our late teens and early twenties together, when I think you are really working out who you are. He has always had a very calm, relaxed and laid back nature. When I first started work, my husband (then boyfriend) would constantly tell me to stop stressing over the things that happened at work that day, and stop freaking out when things didn’t go to plan or I made a mistake.
I agreed that I didn’t like this ‘drama queen’ aspect to myself, and I hated the way a small thing could ruin my entire day. I started using the mantra, “will you remember this moment a year from now?” Everything becomes small in scale when you use this phrase.
Surprisingly I now cope with small stress and big stress a lot better than my husband does! Or at least I think I do 🙂
Here are a few things I’ve already covered in earlier posts that also really helped me through this chaotic week:
– Removing ‘nice to have’s’ from my day, carrying these forward as actions into next week when I have more time. Read more of this on the Time Management blog post.
– Don’t think that everything has to be done that day. Move your tasks to occur later in the week or tomorrow morning if they aren’t as urgent. Experts say having more than seven big tasks on your to do list is too many. Try to delegate this out over the week.
– Get the most important, biggest task of the day done first. This will reduce your stress level. There is nothing worse than having something hanging over your head clouding your dedication and focus on the task at hand.
– Don’t make it so you have something on every night of the week when you return to the office. You may need to work back 30 minutes or more to get back on track, and you don’t want to feel pressured to get home, or feel guilty for not saying to complete something.
– Utilising my calendar: not just for work, but home as well. If you are hosting a dinner party or have commitments at night, it’s important to stay organised and jot down everything you need to do so you aren’t feeling drained trying to remember everything, or exhausted by the end of the day (as if we need another reason to feel tired?!). I find Evernote really helps me do this, and I will talk about this brilliant app over the next few weeks.
– Taking a few days off work? Book in events that you are hosting for the beginning of the holiday period. I hosted a dinner party on the Friday evening, and I was still in work mode on the Thursday night to be able to prepare and ready everything for Friday. I was then able to relax more over my long weekend.
– Still feeling overwhelmed? Have you ever looked at planning your personal month ahead calendar? I find writing everything upcoming really helps me focus on the now. There are some beautiful templates for personal calendars to stick on your fridge at home and keep at work on the website: http://www.ellinee.com/blog/printable-november-calendar/
How do you cope when your planned week goes to chaos?