Calendar with circled date.No matter what kind of job or life you have, sometimes your day-to-day situation changes. Is that an understatement, or what?! For this week’s Keys to Keeping Chaos at Bay, we are talking about the more “planned” changes, for example, when you know that

a) You are going to be out for surgery (your own or a family member’s);

b) You are going to attend and/or present at a conference;

c) You are going to be out on vacation.

Keep the following in mind as you planfully prepare for your egress (absence) and ingress (return).  Egress: Preparing for an absence:

  1. Consider the wear and tear on your body, mind, and soul when preparing to travel, getting ready to present at a conference, being out for surgery, etc. Don’t head out the door already worn down to a nub.
  2. Acknowledge the fact that your mail and email will continue to arrive while you aren’t in your office to handle it. Set up structures for retrieving the email and mail so that it’s “contained” when you return.
  3. Know that the way you plan for your final day before being out makes a huge difference to you and to others. Running around like a chicken with your head cut off is neither productive nor positive for you or anyone else.
  4. Be thoughtful of yourself and of the people who will handle things in your absence. Give others as much information as they need to be able to assist while you’re gone.
  5. Determine what, if any, access others will have to you when you are absent. Now, Ingress: Planning for returning after an absence:
  6. Recognize and acknowledge the wear and tear on your body, mind, and soul due to travel, interaction at a conference, presenting, being out sick, etc. Be wise about how you try to return. If you think you’ll be able to be at full steam right away, it’s unlikely you will. Give yourself the time you need to recover.
  7. Consider the fact that your mail and email have continued to arrive while you weren’t in your office to keep up with it. The best of all worlds is if you can dedicate an entire day to moving through the email and mail that have come while you were out, but when that isn’t realistic, given you life and work, then at least spend an additional 30″ – 1 hour each day until you clear it out. Leaving it stacked up (literally or figuratively is not productive and feels quite “weighty”).
  8. How you approach your first day on return can make a big difference to your time management-for a week or more, depending on how long you have been out. Avoid scheduling something first thing on the morning you return. It’s nice to “ease” back into the routine and is actually far more productive.
  9. Know that others have been going along (and managing) while you were out. Give them recognition where it’s needed and be respectful of others, e.g., not expecting anyone to drop what s/he is doing to try to get you back in the groove.
  10. Now, do what is reasonable to get back into the flow. Depending on how much time you were out, it may take an hour of extra time or it may take days. Notice the patterns so that you can plan even better in the future.

Last week’s Keys to Keeping Chaos at Bay were about being wise when you travel. Reconsider those along with this week’s ideas–and you can inject more sense (and less chaos) into the various egress and ingress scenarios that the modern professional experiences.


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