Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Back to work: DON’T PANIC!

Just like the warning on the Hitch-Hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy - not like Corporal Jones in Dad's Army!!

Going back to work after holidays seems to turn normally rational people into gibbering idiots.

I was speaking to a colleague recently who was lamenting that she hadn’t caught up with e-mail by lunchtime of her first day back (after two weeks holiday). For several years now, I’ve taken the view that unless I’m completely redundant or ludicrously over-resources with staff, there will be a backlog when I return to work. Nowadays it’s mainly e-mail for me – but whatever it is, don’t make the mistake of knocking yourself out by trying to catch up all at once.

I’ve developed some rules/ approaches – call them what you will – which seem to work for me. I’ll share them over the next couple of days.

My first rule is DON’T PANIC. If your organisation didn’t collapse while you were on holiday, the chances are that it will survive for a few days while you catch up on the backlog. Alternatively, if it’s on the brink of collapse because you’ve taken a holiday, it’s probably not worth catching up anyway!

My second rule is the rule of ‘double time’. This doesn’t mean that I get paid extra for catching up. Nor does it mean that I put in heaps of extra time to focus on it. It does mean that I set myself a target for restoring stability – if I’ve been away for a day, I give myself two days; one week = two weeks; two weeks = four weeks. (At this point I’m going to assume that you can multiply time by two and, therefore, not provide any more examples.)

More rules to follow shortly…

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