As I’m gearing back up from some downtime, I figured I’d share a few of the ways I get back into the swing. For some, getting back to work is a breeze. Solidifying broken habits is no worry. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. I tend to be momentum driven and gaining momentum can take time. Here’s the process I often use to get things going after finding myself behind at work or at home.
Begin With A Review
Whenever I experience a significant break from my routine, I go into review mode. Even if it is mid-week, I go through the same process that I would during my weekly review (especially considering this is one of the first habits to go when things get dicey). This forces me to take a look at everything, get a feel for what’s missing and creates an opportunity to reassess what’s most important. It forces me to clear my desk and clear my head, both of which tend to be messy after a break.
Make A Plan
After I review, I’ll sit down and plan out the rest of my week. I don’t tend to do this normally. In most cases, I trust in my system to show me the information I need to plan my days. Normally I sit down at my desk each morning, take out one of David Seah’s Emergent Task Planners and use a combination of OmniFocus, my calendar and any notes on my desk to create a rough plan for the day. When getting back from a break in the routine, I trust my trusted system just a little less and want a bit more scaffolding. To achieve this, I plan my day, but go one step further. I don’t lay things out exactly, I just try to determine the “big rocks” for every day of that week. Even determining the projects I plan to work on each day can go a long way towards getting my mind back on doing a single task rather than obsessing over all the tasks I have to do..
There’s a temptation to go as hard as you can as long as you can until you’re caught up. Don’t you worry; plenty of hard work will go into getting back up to speed and back into a routine. It just won’t help you to hit the ground running, at least not right away. One of my favorite takeaways from Crossfit is the concept of a sprint start on an rowing machine. When you’re racing for time, you’re tempted to just start pulling as hard as you can to get going as fast as you can. As those who try this approach quickly learn, it isn’t an effective strategy. Instead you go through a progression of smaller strokes that get the flywheel going. By the time you’re ready for that first pull, things are already in motion. Taking the time to review and plan go a long way toward getting things going, but also give yourself a few lightweight manageable tasks to build some momentum up before you really start pulling.
Last but not least, be ready to suck and for things to suck for a little while. Having just gone back to the aforementioned Crossfit after a nearly two-week absence away, I can tell you that things were not fun and pretty. That said, had I waited any longer, they would only grow less fun and less pretty. I needed to get back in the swing of things and the only way to do that is by going through the motions. I had to get through the initial work before I could get back to doing my best work.
Yesterday wasn’t my best day at work, my best day of writing or my best day at the gym, but taking the time to clarify, structure and ease back into the work along with a willingness to suck at it is going a long way toward making today just a little bit better.
How do you go about getting back into gear when you lose your momentum? I’m still getting mine back, so all tricks and tips are welcome.