Ordinarily, the best way to prepare yourself for an extended absence from your daily routine is to leave notes to yourself. Have a list. Make everything ready so you can quickly resume where you left off.
But then, there are those leave-of-absence occurrences that are unexpected, such as what happened to me during September’s Mom Week. I left on the 12th and came home with a terrible cold on October 4th.
It’s like this: Wednesday the 5th, Mom was scheduled for a scan to determine what was wrong with her stomach. We figured they’d adjust her medicine or give her something different, so after the scan, we headed out to lunch and bebopped around downtown Bryan for a while. Then we went home, got comfortable, watched a little TV, and received a phone call, “Get to the ER now!” Come to find out, they’d been trying to reach us all afternoon.
Fortunately, what they’d thought was wrong wasn’t what actually was wrong, and the six hour surgery I’d prepped for in my mind turned out to be only an hour and a half. But it was surgery—which was followed a few days later by another procedure, an ablation, because her heart decided to be funky while she was in the hospital. I’d packed for four days, and by the time she left the hospital, I’d already had to do laundry twice.
So, following a week in the hospital, a week of recovering at the house, and a week of follow-up appointments, I was finally able to go home with, as I said, a horrible cold. The first day of a cold is always bad. I spent the second day too dizzy to drive. The third day, I gritted my teeth and made the 2.5-hour drive from her house to mine and went straight to bed. Thanks to my own condition, even something like a simple cold can knock me out of commission for a while.
Here we are now, Monday morning, and I’m ready to get back to work. Problem is, I don’t know where to start. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m gone for an extended period of time, I walk back into my world as if seeing it for the first time. Where was I? What was I doing? What was I supposed to be doing? What’s going on here?!
Now I need a plan of attack. I start with two major lists: what I was supposed to have done while I was gone and what has been added to my to-do list because I was gone.
Supposed to have done:
- Release newsletter announcing September’s giveaway winner
- Write new newsletter
- Update website
- Schedule promotions
- Play on social media (yes, it’s important—gotta keep your visibility up)
- Bookkeeping (since my time away includes the end of the month)
- A boatload of emails (though I kept up with most)
- General household stuff that got neglected for three weeks (Oy vey!!!)
I have to prioritize and tackle the list a little at a time. Writing is my job and it’s a daily activity, so first I need to get back on my schedule. Emails are important because some are time-sensitive.
But beyond this, for day one of “return to work,” I’ll basically be making lists inside each item on the list. What goes in my next newsletter? What will I update my website with? What books to I want to push this week/month? What emails need immediate attention?
I need to figure out how much time to dedicate to each task. I’ll knock out some of the things on the list today. Household stuff has to be done. Can’t get around that. Even though no one will admit it publically, polite society expects one to have on clean underwear.
So, here are my plans today: Write, because that’s my job. Reclaim my house, because that’s my job as a homemaker/wife—and because my sanity demands an ordered environment. Make an assessment of other to-dos and determine an order for them to be done.
In other words, the best way for me to get back to work is to get back to order. Once I sort through what looks like a mountain of a mess and put it into smaller piles of categorized messes, I can prioritize the piles. From the looks of things, barring any other surprises and demands on my time, I should be caught up and back in the swing of things at least by Wednesday.
That’s how I do it. What do you do? Share tips, please.