This month Ann and I took 3 days out of the “normal work week” for the APMA National Conference in Nashville; and I’ve come up with a new catchphrase…
Be Gone For 3 Days and Be Behind for 3 Weeks!
(OK, not the best catchphrase on the books)
But the struggle is real and I am sure many of you feel it when you are out of the office for any reason. Once you put a “wrench” in your daily routine, it takes a while to get everything back on track; especially when your schedule was already maxed out.
If you’ve experienced this before, or you’re going through it now like I am, I simply want to share some quick tips that have (a) helped me get back on track, (b) helped me not have a nervous breakdown, and/or (c) have helped me realize realistic goals for future office outages.
Reach out to anyone who can help with your delayed tasks.
Delegating is not my strong suit, and I have a feeling a lot of control freaks are reading this now. However, when we are behind, we have to be willing to allow others to help us. I’m not going to ask you to make a list of what items are pending – because who has time right now to make a list? BUT – when your mind is racing and your anxiety about
multiple jobs/errands/responsibilities are running circles in your brain, choose the one that you know someone else is capable of handling. Eat the frog and make a phone call right then and there and get it off your plate.
Determine what is genuinely urgent.
You may be familiar with this matrix; it is always a good reminder of how to keep your tasks organized and prioritized; especially when your anxiety brain wants to sabotage you.

Have sincere conversations with the people who are counting on / waiting on you.
When you feel behind, you may also feel shame; which could cause you to avoid conversations with the people you feel you are letting down. If you’re doing that, you are probably just digging a deeper hole because they are not mind readers and may think you’ve just completely forgotten about them or written them off. Most people have been in your shoes if this is happening to you; so just give those people a quick call and explain. It will make you feel a lot better knowing you’re not on the chopping block when you’re doing your best to get back on track.
Use a tool to calm your mind.
Freaking out isn’t gonna get the job done. You can only do one thing at a time. Something that has worked for me in the past is the simple repetition of telling myself, “It will all get done, it always does.” I’ve also found a lot of serenity in these tools if you want to give them a shot:
Be realistic in the future.
Stop setting yourself up for failure. These are phrases I am no longer going to allow myself to use when I go to a meeting:
  • I’ll have some downtime and will be able to get that done while I’m gone.
  • I’ll be able to complete that task the day I get back from the conference.
  • I’ll still be able to check my email regularly while I’m out.
I know there are more… but, you get the idea, right?
If none of this works for you… then my next best advice is find something to laugh about!
– Sarah Breymeier