Pace Yourself

I’m back! Anyone miss me?

The trip was wonderful. It was also long enough for me to forget all stresses, worries, projects, and bills owed. How’s that for a great vacation? But I would like to thank the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue for welcoming me home with an underpayment of taxes notice. I appreciate the warmth, you bunch of…

We had the best weather imaginable. Naturally, I packed no sunblock, tons of long sleeves, and no shorts. Inverness hit 80 a few times and I was sure I’d lost ten pounds in sweat alone. It rained, but atypical for the western Highlands, the sun was prominent.

Our clan gathering was spectacular. We were greeted like royalty by the Provost of Inverness, and were treated to formal dinners and a ceilidh (pronounced KAY lee – a Scottish dance and music event) unlike any since Edinbane on the Isle of Skye eleven years ago. More formal, but no less fun. The organizers of the entire event did a phenomenal job. We signed the new band of union (read about it here and see photos here) and made history. It was spectacular to be part of. We met clan members from Phoenix, Inverness, and Australia, who are now considered friends. And for me, being surrounded by kilts, brogues, and bagpipes is like being in heaven.

I came home to a full in box and a lot of last-minute requests. In one case, I have to turn the work down. I’m already booked through Friday on large projects and two more requests are just going to have to wait. I hate that, but I’m one person and the other clients who booked early and have waited through my vacation must be priorities.

So now, I play catch-up. I’ve come up with a system to handle post-vacation work. I determine whose deadline takes precedence (and no, it’s not based on payment – it’s based on who was here first, whose need is most critical, and how I can accommodate all without killing myself or letting anyone down). I drop any unnecessary communications – phone goes to voice mail, emails are checked at set intervals, and nothing new is discussed until I finish at least one due project.

For new projects, I determine my upcoming availability. In cases like this week where work is already in the pipeline, I can’t honor the “can we have it in 48 hours?” requests. I could stay up until midnight on your project, but neither of us would like the results. I’d prefer to give you my full attention and best work later.

It’s so tempting to take on everything that comes in, including the rush projects. But I know I can’t do it, physically or mentally. I’m writing this on Sunday. I plan to put a few hours in on a project as it’s the final pass and will wrap it up for this client. But I’m not spending the entire day at it, for the yard has been neglected, the refrigerator’s empty, and I’ve been two long weeks in a country without iced tea. I’m going to treat myself.

Do you pace yourself after the vacation? If so, how? If not, how fast do you burn out?

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Comments

  • Cheryl B August 17, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Welcome back! I missed you! Your guest posts were great, but there's nothing like the real thing. Glad you had a good time.

    Right now, I'm not identifying with the need to pace myself, because the client that keeps me busiest is out of the country. But usually what's hardest for me is the change of pace ā€“ going from not even thinking about work to deadlines and demands. It's easier to get back into the groove, I think, if you work outside your home. You have more than just work waiting for you, you also have the social aspect of co-workers who are happy to see you back.

    Reply
  • Lori August 17, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks for the welcome, Cheryl. It's nice to see my "coworker" happy to see me. šŸ™‚

    I'm spent and it's only 1:30 in the afternoon! I haven't even gotten to my emails. I've had phone calls I want to return, but I'm too busy right now (hang in there – I'm getting to you!).

    Reply
  • Gabriella F. August 17, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Welcome back, Lori!

    Glad you had a great time and were able to forget work. That's what a vacation's all about, no?

    Reply
  • Kimberly Ben August 17, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Welcome back! You were definitely missed, but so glad you had a great time.:)

    Reply
  • hugh.c.mcbride August 17, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Welcome back, Lori. As others have already said, the guest posts were wonderful but it's good to have the chance to read your words again.

    Sounds like Scotland was a grand time — & I'm glad to hear that I'm not the first one to travel there & return with a sunburn šŸ™‚

    Hope your transition back to the workaday world is a smooth one!

    Reply
  • Lori August 18, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Thanks, everyone. Hugh, I'm glad to read YOUR words today, too. šŸ™‚

    Reply