Right now I’m sitting in a cafe, one that specializes in tea. It’s got that casual cafe vibes where people’s conversations are in the background, you hear typing, the lighting is half cloudy sun and half vanilla yellow lights and the air is perfumed with tea aromatics. Literally the perfect setting for me to get on top of things, move ahead. I love to people watch as I “write” or type since I’m all 21st century. But sometimes I get in this trap where I just watch and observe and consume the energy instead.
Anyways, it’s the end of the year and I’ve observed that people are more with friends engaging in non-productive conversation more so than any other times of the year. So I ask the man next to me who is just waiting for a friend. Ben is his name. Ben tells me he has “switched off,” and that he’s “not sure when if [he] will be able to get back at it.” At what? “At a normal routine.”
After some 3 months of travel with a long almost 40-day trip to India, I feel the same slug as he is. “I get it” I tell Ben. Ben is a student and has completed exams and will be back in the new year for the new term. I spent, much like Ben, all of my travel days working. I had allocated time to relax, but it didn’t pan out like the way I wanted and soon Saturday’s and Thursday’s were bleeding into one and Sunday felt very much like a mid week. I remember when we were driving to a meeting in Mumbai, my mom was in the car with me as she wanted to go shopping at the mall nearby, I asked what day of the week it was. “How do you not know the day of the week?” Quite honestly, it just didn’t matter what day it was.
Getting back to London got me completely out of sync and I was trying to figure out a way to, according to Ben, “get back at it.” It didn’t work for 1 week because I was engaged in a losing war with jet lag and when I finally prevailed, I was standing as a median of a busy crossroad.
Make a Master List
One thing I’m good at is making lists and then lists for my lists. And if you are someone who frequents c&é, you would know quite fondly that I love the Todoist app. It helps me see my days and tasks in list form, whilst being color coordinated and organized based on folders. It’s really a list makers dream. On a flight back to London, I usually spend part of it putting together a master list on my phone of everything I need to get done. No organization, just bullets and straight to the point.
After making my master list, do I break up my list based on task and priority/day. I’ve mentioned before that I love mixing up my days with work-blog-personal admin just to keep things exciting.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
Just under 2 years ago, I was in South Africa for a wedding and then some travel after. Lots of food, booze, long nights and adventures were had with one of my besties that I was reuniting with after 5 years. I remember on the flight back, I was alright with making the list and then went to sleep, but after arriving I had the toughest time getting back into routine. Even with just a 1-hour time difference, there was nothing my body would let me do.
With that said, and going through that experience, you have to take things a bit slow when you’re getting back. Your body is vulnerable and you’re mentally and physically still on “holiday.” Give yourself some time to resettle and readjust. This may sound like a counterproductive tips, but you will come out on top.
Prioritize Your Work
Especially true if you’re constantly traveling or going on longer trips. Anytime I come back, there are always messages and missed calls on my phone for a good few weeks. As much as I would love to dive in and see my friends, I try to focus on getting the work I need to done.
For the week following a trip, try not to plan too much and consider focusing on getting unpacked, caught up AND ahead on your work, and taking a personal day just to revitalize. It shouldn’t stop you from making plans for the week after with friends.
Clean & Revamp
Am I the only one who loves to unpack? Maybe it’s because I’m usually not home too often, but I get really excited to sleep in my own bed. I hold onto memories from holidays and thus can’t wait to take out my little memories in gift form and reminisce.
Make your work space inviting by either getting a small bouquet of flowers or a new candle to burn, maybe do the same for your home, and just try to get unpacking out of the way if you hate it.
You all are going to think my phone goes off literally all the time, but I really do love an alarm. Sometimes I set a 30 minute timer on my phone, if I can’t get myself to get myself motivated. Then I use the alarm as a race to get as much done as I can. This works well for chores and mindless things you need to get done (ie. unpacking). Yes, I’m a child and love a little competition.
I’ve mentioned that I love setting alarms for reminders in my previous productivity post, which you can read here.
Honestly, this is the exact recipe I use to get my life together after a work trip or personal holiday. Be gentle with yourself in the very beginning as you cope with getting into the rhythm of things again.