So here you are. January…whatever, 2013.
The holidays are over, but you still can’t quite get into your normal routine.
You can’t seem to get started – and if you do get started, you find it difficult to maintain any momentum.
It’s frustrating – and it can make you feel like you’re being lazy or ineffective.
Don’t feel too guilty about it. Everyone has experienced difficulty getting back on track after some time away from their normal routine.
The Holiday Hustle
So why do you feel this way after an extended break? It’s simple, really. Holidays are a whirlwind of craziness and can really throw you off your game.
Your days are full of cooking, eating, cleaning, traveling to relatives homes, them traveling to yours, guests, family, going to the mall (where everyone but you has clearly lost their minds) – and if you’re lucky enough to live in the right region – snow removal accompanied by bitter cold.
It’s a magical time, is it not?
Eventually everyone goes home, you stop eating seven or eight meals a day, and it’s time to get back into your routine. Back to normal. Time to get grounded.
But when you sit down to open that first email or make that first call you just feel off track somehow.
Easing Back In
As much as I personally enjoy diving in and attacking a project, sometimes that’s not the answer. After an extended break, it helps to ease back in.
Think of your normal routine as a hot tub. It’s comfortable and cozy when you’re used to the hot water. But if you decide to go back in the water later after standing outside in the snow for a while, you would probably choose slowly re-acclimating to it over a cannon-ball.
That is exactly what you need to do to get your momentum back: Ease back in.
5 Steps To Reclaim Your Routine After An Extended Break
Here are five steps that you can take right now to get your momentum back after a break.
1: First Things First – Take Inventory
Let’s start with a baby step. Set aside a maximum of 10 minutes to take a quick inventory of things you know you can get done in the next two to three hours. The whole idea here is to get your mind back into your routine – not to take on everything. Stick to around 5 or 10 items, and spend no more than 10 minutes on this step. Trust me.
2: Go Away
That’s right – go away from your work for a few minutes. Go get a cup of coffee, have a conversation about sports with someone, or read a short article. Let that list percolate and go do something else. While I wouldn’t normally suggest working for just a few minutes and then taking a break, when you’re out of rhythm and looking to ground yourself you need to shake up the norm. Don’t let this turn into a half-hour waste of time. This is just a brief part of your mental rebooting.
3: Re-Read And Edit
When you go back and look at your list, begin by re-assessing it. Examine it carefully and see if you should remove or add any items. Think in terms of what would get you back into your routine and give you a sense of accomplishment.
4: Focus On Speed – Not Importance
For the purpose of getting back into our routine after a break, you are going to take a different perspective on your to-do list today. Usually people prioritize tasks based on their importance. Not today. Today, you are going to put your list in order of how quickly an item can be completed and crossed off. Remember the idea here is to accomplish something quickly so you start to get back to your normal pre-holiday self. Do the easiest, fastest thing first and cross it off. Then the next – then the next.
5: Complete And Reload
After crossing all those items off of your to-do list (even an easy one), you can’t help but start to feel more productive. Run with that feeling. Use this new momentum to ramp it up and begin organizing your more important bigger tasks. Start a new list full of new projects and new items to cross off.
If the holidays have you lagging and you can’t find your momentum, give this simple exercise a try. You’ll find that it helps get you on back track, re-focuses your efforts, and clears the way for bigger and better projects.
Do you feel out of sorts after the holidays? How do you get back into the routine? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments!