Tag Archives: preparation

“Wrapping up” for Christmas ~ a checklist for your last day of work before the holidays.

woman doing gift wrapping
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It’s your last day of work before the holidays – but before you rush out the door, there are a few things you can do to make your working life that bit more pleasant when you return after your break.

1. Emails!

After some time off work, especially if it’s an enjoyable or longer period away from the office (as it’s my realm of work, this is mostly geared towards office workers), it is quite common to feel a little bit disoriented on your first day back. It’s good to prepare in advance for this.

For example, you might forget your password to log into your computer, and you might find that you have a deluge of emails clogging up your inbox.

Here are some handy tips to alleviate these problems:

  • Before you ‘clock out’ for the holidays, respond to any outstanding emails or correspondence that you have, and make a note of anything you need to follow up on for when you return.
  • Delete any unnecessary emails and clear out your recycle bin and junk mail folders.
  • Unsubscribe from any ‘alerts’ (such as Google alerts) or correspondence, newsletters, etc. that aren’t too important – you can always make a note of what you’ve unsubscribed from and re-subscribe when you come back to work. That way you won’t be inundated with unnecessary emails to sift through after your holiday.
  • For the remaining emails that you need to keep in your inbox, create sub-folders and categorise these according to task / work-stream, etc. and ‘flag’ any items that are priority items for you to look at when you get back.

2. Password

You’ll be likely to forget your password to get into your system, so keep a reminder with you (not at your computer) with some hints as to what it is (don’t write down your actual password). You can also keep the number of your work IT support service handy so that if all else fails you can call for help on your first day (but bear in mind you probably won’t be the only one!).

3. Clear your desk

As keen and eager as you may be to rush out the door as soon as you possibly can on your last day, don’t leave your workspace in a mess, because it won’t be the most pleasant of things to come back to after a relaxing break. Instead, tidy up any clutter, bin any rubbish and keep things clean, neat and tidy. File away any paperwork, and make sure confidential information is securely locked away or safeguarded. Maybe even write a ‘welcome back’ note for yourself to come back to! 😉

4. Tie up loose ends and update your colleagues

Try to complete any outstanding assignments well ahead of your last day so that you won’t have to be stressing to get things done at the last minute and you can relax and enjoy ‘winding down’ before the holidays. Create a ‘task list’ for yourself for when you come back to work and if you are leaving earlier than other colleagues who may have to pick up work for you when you’re on holiday, then make sure you have a chance to chat with them beforehand, email any updates and make sure that everyone is informed with what to do and that a plan is in place so that things keep running smoothly in your absence.

5. Create a plan for yourself for your first day back at work after your holiday

This will make the transition back into work more seamless and you won’t be sitting around feeling confused as you try to remember “what’s my job again?!” 🙂

6. The gift of giving

If you are leaving a few days or more before your other colleagues, try to be sensitive to this even if you are ‘super excited’ that your own holidays will start soon. You could do something nice for them, even a simple kind gesture, such as bringing in some chocolates or festive treats for your colleagues and leave a note or a card wishing them well and thanking people for any things they have done through the year that have been particularly helpful to you. Say goodbye in some way, and leave on good terms with everyone.

7. Out of office.

This may well be your favourite ‘task’ of the day – putting on your ‘out of office’! That sweet sensation of knowing you will be ‘free’ for the next so many days, or weeks, to relax and do just what you like. As well as feeling good, putting your ‘out of office’ on is important in keeping other people updated as to when you will be away and when you will come back, and it will also be helpful for others if you can provide them with alternative contact details for someone who can assist them when you are away.

So, that’s that! Or perhaps I should say, “That’s a wrap!”. Enjoy ‘winding down’ for the holidays, and have a peaceful, stress-free and wonderful rest when the time comes for you. x

Winter Survival Guide (4) ~ Take Stock, and Stock Up.

A beautiful analogy of life is winter. The latter seasons of the year one might compare with the changing tones and mood of life as one ages. As with a carefree youth and young adulthood, the beginning of the year is often filled and overflowing with doing things, getting things done, making plans, achieving, going places, exploring, dreaming, figuring things out, seeing the world, and finding one’s passion. How many of us look upon January as a fresh new start, and begin dreaming of and planning for the wonderful adventures in the year ahead? However, as time moves on, and the year draws to a close, as things mature, and aspects of life fall away, the mood becomes somewhat more pensive, more reflective, a time for thinking, for evaluating, for finding meaning, for ‘taking stock’.

The winter months provide a perfect opportunity for ‘taking stock’ in a number of ways. It is a good time to consider how you have spent the past year, whether you used your time wisely, faced your challenges bravely, have grown in character, have shown love, lived out your purpose and made the world a little kinder than before. It is also a good time to ‘rest and be thankful’, and to think upon our individual journey through life, our faith, our personal beliefs and whether we have found the answers we have been searching for, whether indeed we have been asking the right questions of our short lives on earth in the first place (questions which yield answers of eternal significance), whether we have to ‘dig a bit deeper’, or whether we have been ‘frittering our time away’ and wasting the gifts, talent and time given to us. These deep things are definitely a reason to pause for thought.

However, on a much lighter and more practical note, this time of year is also a good opportunity for taking stock of the day to day things of our lives. Perhaps thinking about these practical things is more to your liking, so here are some suggestions of where you could start.

  • Take stock of what you have at home, what you need to let go of, and what you need to stock up on.
  • For example, do you have the things you need to see you through this season? Things such as medicines, cough and cold supplies, a stock of food in your pantry including all of those helpful non-perishable items, toiletries, first aid kits, warm clothes, and so forth?
  • Before going out and buying all of the things you need for winter time, have a look through what you have already got and make the best use of those items. As my Mum still tells me, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” (Wise words, thanks Mum! 🙂 x ).
  • Similarly, if you have more than you need, or have gone through the year not using what you have such as clothes, then consider donating some of these items to people who will get good use out of them. This is something that I keep meaning to do, but need to actually put into action this year. If I’m not using it, shouldn’t I give someone else the chance to?
  • Having taken stock of what we have, what we can let go of, and what we need, it’s a good time to ‘stock up’ for the winter – especially for those cold nights when you don’t feel like going out to get something from the shops, having something at hand comes in very useful!

So over to you – what are the types of things you are taking stock of this winter season, whether practical or more in terms of your values and life journey? Do you have any hints and tips to share with the rest of us?

As always, stay warm and cosy. 🙂 x

bazaar bottles business ceramic
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Sunday reset afternoons.

Do the thing that your ‘tomorrow self’ will thank you for doing today! 🙂

Sunday afternoons are a good chance to ‘reset’ and reorganise to be fresh and ready for the week ahead, especially if you’ve had a busy week, and weekend. It’s a nice time to chill out, tidy up, and try to get into a positive and productive frame of mind for the week ahead. Yet, it can be hard sometimes to feel motivated. I know the feeling, but I’m going to try to not put unnecessary pressure on myself so that even if things aren’t fresh and ready for Monday and a brand new week, they will be ‘fresher and more ready’. One thing I like to do if I have a lot of tidying or organising to do is to break things down into smaller more manageable tasks, or set a five minute timer so that I can do a bit of work, and then do something relaxing or creative that I enjoy, and then get back into another task. This is especially helpful on those ‘lazy days’ when you need a little bit more ‘oomph’ and motivation. I also like to think of how I’d ideally like things to be, in my home and living space, and work towards that and it’s nice to know there is a whole world of inspiration out there on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet to help get back on track and make our surroundings a little more beautiful and our life that bit more organised and productive. I’ll give it a go, and see how much I can get done this Sunday evening while still staying in a reasonably chilled out frame of mind, and feeling grateful for the blessings and with the intent of doing the best with what I’ve got. A little at a time, right? So what helps you stay motivated? Do you have a Sunday afternoon / evening ‘reset routine’? 

beige table lamp on table with chair in room
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Retreat Reflections – Day 3 (Part 2) ~ Shifting Gears…

12.30pm

At the end of a personal retreat, it’s important to feel rested and refreshed and ready for what lies ahead. However, the reality of that isn’t always the case, so I’m hoping that it works out for me by the close of today, as it’s onwards to ‘normal life’ at work in the office, tomorrow. Thankfully just a two day ‘work week’ (although I have been working hard on my novel at home).

woman reading book while lying on sofa
Photo by Alex Gállego on Pexels.com

The approach I’ve taken over the past couple of days has turned out to be very productive for me. By 11.30am I was able to put away my novel writing for another day, note down a few ideas to research, explore and take forwards in between now and my next focussed writing session, save my work, tally up a total word count over the two ‘and a bit’ days to 6,369 words, back up my files and give thanks for a productive time. 

Retreats and ‘Couch potato syndrome’:

It can be hard to shift gears back into the ‘real world’ after a personal retreat. It’s therefore important to smooth out that transition as best as we can rather than expecting to be bright eyed and busy tailed and ready to go the next morning. 

Ahead of me ‘looms’ piles of unwashed dishes, a messy bedroom and other ‘to do’ type things. It’s only mid afternoon, but I don’t want to end my retreat feeling rushed, busy or distracted. I don’t want to end the retreat tidying up, I’d much rather ease into the evening in a tidy environment, a soothing atmosphere and have the time, space, opportunity and mental focus to reflect upon what I’ve learned, what I want to take forward, and to do some calming activities (such as playing my violin, doing some adult colouring in, working on my photography, reading, decorating my ‘planner’, being calmly prepared for work, praying, and generally feeling accomplished, relaxed, refreshed and rested, rather than anxious).

The big however, is that for the past couple of days I’ve been all but a complete couch potato. I went out for a short walk on Saturday afternoon after I had accomplished my writing goals, but yesterday I didn’t even get ready, and stayed in all day, sitting on my couch and typing on my laptop, interspersed with eating food of various sorts, and drinking cups of tea!

potatoes fun knife fork
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Today therefore, although feeling like I have made progress creatively, physically I am experiencing a bit of couch potato syndrome. To overcome that I set aside a bit of time for the next ‘segment’ of my personal retreat, to help me to shift gears and actually get up, move about, and do things so that I can hopefully relax and do some light creative activities in the evening. I started to do some light exercise, using one of my usual You Tube exercise video series. However, even doing what is generally quite easy for me, was a bit of a challenge for me – I suppose my legs feel a bit ‘floppy’ after couch sitting for two days, and my mind is ‘in between’ creative space and physical action at the moment. We don’t always consider this dynamic when thinking about retreats, that there is a shifting of gears and adjustment required on the concluding day. Definitely don’t expect to do hours upon hours of focused work on your last day of retreat, and to feel prepared and refreshed afterwards. Get your best work done earlier on when you can more fully dwell in that creative space, and consider less to be more for the last stretch of retreat time. 

Another thing to consider is if you are a deeply creative person, it can be difficult to suddenly expect to go from one mode of thinking and being to another. For example, after spending hours writing my novel, if I had to suddenly switch straight back into work mode, that would be difficult for me – I would miss the experience, discovery and engagement of writing too much – which is why it is helpful to have other avenues such as writing my blog that mean it isn’t such a sharp mental, emotional and creative contrast, as I will still be able to express the creative part of me on a regular basis, even when there is no focussed retreat time. 

So back to easing out of the world inside our heads and computers, to the world around us. Leave a bit of time and space for you to do this on your retreat. Have an afternoon of gentle exercise, stretching, if unlike me you are dressed and ready for the outside world you could go for a walk somewhere peaceful, and maybe do your tidying in short segments of time while focusing on being present, noticing things creatively, or listening to something inspiring while you work – don’t fully reconnect with the outside world yet, especially online, this is still your time, and headspace, enjoy it, savour it, even as you gently shift gears.

Travel Snaps ~ It’s all in the Preparation…

I recently returned from a fortnight traveling through the European cities of Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Moselle, Frankfurt, Delft and Stuttgart. I’d love to share with you some of my travel experiences, however, I realise that with so many experiences to share it may be best to post perhaps a longer series of individually shorter posts. You can let me know what you think.

So, to get started, I thought it might be helpful to look at the preparation side of things. Traveling can take a lot of organisation. I do have friends who on an impulse can take a plane somewhere and go on a real adventure, meeting locals and hardly knowing what they are going to do from one day to the next. However, for most of us who aren’t quite like that it takes time and preparation to save money, decide where we want to go, find out when we are able to go and then take all the necessary practical steps to organise such an adventure.

One of the often last minute things we look at is packing. I have still not mastered the fine art of packing light, however, I do seek to pack smart, by having an idea of what the weather will be like where I’m going, how much I need to take and to pack things I will actually use. I am pleased to say that having set myself the challenge to wear almost all of my clothes that I took with me on my journey, I did surprisingly well.

Here are a few pictures to illustrate how I pack, try to maximise space and take into consideration some of my personal needs, such as managing a skin condition and not taking any risks with hotel bedding by bringing my own sleeping bag (and it was a comfort that I am so glad I brought with me, making it so much easier to rest and relax).

I used the roll rather than fold technique in packing, and having tried it a few different ways, I can say that this saved me a lot of space and helped to organise my clothes. Added to this I made sure I took only miniatures for toiletries, also making use of small containers that I already had and filling them up accordingly.

So for now, as I get set to lay my head upon the pillow for the night, I wish for you also to have sweet dreams, perhaps imagining your next great adventure. x

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