Sunday, December 27, 2009

Recovering from the Holidays

Although Christmas is done, it is far from over. People are still busy with their own Christmas traditions and the holidays often extend well past the 25th and into the New Year. For me, Christmas is filled with many traditions. We have the annual hunt for the Christmas tree, we bake cookies for Santa, make crafts for the kids' presents and then go to a dozen little events over the holidays.

It is a busy time but it is wonderful to be with family. The only bad thing about the holidays, besides all the extra calories, is the constant worry about work, kids, Christmas presents and even the year ahead. That worry, combined with the endless humming of Christmas carols that is present in my home, is usually what makes me suspect that I have lost a few more marbles before the holidays are over.

As it is, I am sure that I have lost a few parts as December 24th rolls into the 25th and by the 26th, I tend to uncover a large pile of said parts. I’m not quite sure what to do with them at first. I mean, I shuffle, and blush as I try to push them under the carpet. "Oh no sir, you are mistaken. That couldn’t be my will power peeking out from behind the curtain. ” "No dear, I didn’t just throw my sanity into the closet. It wasn’t mine. Actually, it looked a lot like yours.”

Of course, there’s nothing to be done about it except sit down on the carpet, pull out the super glue and start putting all those parts back. I’m never sure where they’re supposed to go. I, obviously, did not come with an owner's manual, although I’m sure my husband wishes I had. And I’m not the most mechanically inclined, but I really can’t take me into the shop so I have to make do.

The first piece is always the hardest to stick back, ah patience, where were you when I was standing in that line? Finally, it snaps back into place, and before I know it, I am completely absorbed in my work.

When I finish up, I look around and notice a few spare parts. You know, those few pieces that don’t seem to fit in anywhere but like every good mechanic will say, “If it runs without them, then they probably aren’t needed.”

Well, I’m running and who knew, sanity was optional! I’ll just run without it for the year and maybe I can find a place for it next year when I do this all again.

Of course, it’s the 27th now and minus a few of those parts, it’s time to start running with work. Like many people returning to work, I feel completely overwhelmed. Usually, despite the best of intentions, I lost some of the balance over the holidays. A few things were left unwritten and I had shuffled my priority list but now is the time to fix this.

The first thing that I always do is look at the pieces of my work schedule. Like me, a few parts have fallen off but unlike me, it can’t really run without them all. The first thing that I look at is reality. What can I accomplish? What can’t I accomplish? In reality, there is no way I will get everything done before the New Year so I break in the new planner.

I jot down all my deadlines and then I look at who I should contact. If I can, I contact the people who are willing to extend deadlines and I give them a call (or an email). The key to asking for a deadline extension is to be honest, don’t give them a line about having a sick Aunt Bo and that, on top of the holidays, just messed up your schedule. Tell them why you are behind and you are sure to get a good response. (And chances are, they are behind for the exact reasons you are).

Once I have a few deadline extensions, I give priorities to the rest. The ones that are due first are highest priority and then it goes down from there. It is best to start making a list of what you want to accomplish each day but again, think about reality. I write down two goals for the day, the dream and the reality. I always shoot for the dream, “Today, I am going to finish this article, write 5 chapters and discover a lost civilization…” but I usually hit the reality, “I’m going to finish this article.” Sorry civilization, I’ll find you tomorrow.

The reason why I recommend having two workday goals is that occasionally, you have a moment of inspiration and when you are taking that lunch hour walk, you stumble across the remains of your lost civilization. The dream is there to reach for, the reality is there to realize.

After the schedule is figured out, it is simply a matter of getting started but don’t rush too quickly. Remember that you are recovering from the holidays and soon you will be dealing with New Years so keep your schedule light. Do things gradually and then you will be at full speed by the second.

Lastly, when you are fixing your schedule and getting back on track, don't create a resolution for the New Year. Now is not the time to do it, no matter how tempting it can be. Instead, get back on track, recover both your sanity and your schedule and then make your resolution in February when you are sane and relatively well rested.

So for this week, enjoy the holidays, pick up the parts of your schedule and tap into the feelings you have had over the holidays. Chances are they will drum up some excellent stories to explore in the New Year.

Have a happy New Year!

Sirena

6 comments:

  1. I hear you! It's hard to get back in a routine during the holidays, but I have my final edits to get through. A few things will nag at you until you take care of them. Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

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  2. Schedule! I'm lucky I survived!
    Enjoy the rest of your holiday and forget the extra pieces. But put them in an old jar, just in case.

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  3. I finally sat down today to look at my WIP. Hopefully, I'll have my routine down soon.

    Have a wonderful New Year!

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  4. Thanks for your comments. I am slowly getting back into a routine but I find that my holiday hours don't change until the kids go back to school. I also find that I sleep less because I flip to a night shift to get some work done. More late nights, same early mornings but the work is getting done so I can't complain too much. Okay, well, maybe I can but I won't. :o)

    Have a wonderful New Year everyone.

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  5. I've been writing through the holidays, taking only Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off. I'm hoping to have a new story to submit with the new year. But, it was hard for me to get back into a routine after the baby was born so it was crucial not to stop too long for the holidays.

    Happy New Year!

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  6. Sirena,

    you definitely hit the nail on its flat lacklustre head, LOL Excellent post of which I will take heed and work into my 'get back on track/catch up master plan.'

    Funny how all the best laid plans work so well on paper but when you get up live with them they seem to shrivel and wither leaving nothing but a pile of...well you get the picture.

    I, however, am taking it one item at a time on the God-awful long list, one day at a time, with the expectation of accomplishing each thing in its own good time.

    Happy New Year! and thanks for the wonderful post.

    Dayana~

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