We get pretty focused and effective right before a vacation or trip, don’t we? We scramble to tie up all the loose ends, empty our in-boxes and delegate anything that needs to be taken care of while we are gone.
I call this the storm before the calm. Assuming, of course, that the vacation is a CALM (many aren’t).
Another thing I have noticed about this frantic ends tying time is that it can be really fun. We are frantic, yes, but with a purpose. We see the light at the end of the tunnel, so going a bit nuts for a couple days before is almost a pleasure.
Our ability to delegate improves dramatically! Many managers hesitate to ask others to take on tasks – which is ironic since that’s a core task of a manager – except just before a vacation. We deliver the request with objective confidence that would work all year long. Hmmm…why don’t we do that all year long?
And you know all those little straggler items? The ones that have been gnawing at you for days, maybe weeks? They lurk in your email in-box, in a stack on your credenza (you know the stack – the "I need to get to that one day" stack), or in your day planner where you keep rewriting it to keep it on your mind. And these things DO stay on our minds even when we think about other stuff. These insidious gremlins are like artery plaque. It builds up underneath the surface and lowers our work flow. But, before a vacation we stare down the gremlins and we obliterate them! Ahhh, now that feels good doesn’t it?
I think one of the most beneficial aspects of taking a holiday is the storm before the calm. The work we do before our vacation. It helps us handle the new stuff on our desks when we return. We can head into leisure feeling great.
I have noticed the usual drop off in traffic associated with summer vacations. So for those of you reading this – when are you going to go?
Even if you aren’t going on vacation, perhaps you should pretend and enjoy your own storm before the calm. Call it the, "I’m sick of reruns so I am going to do something else," storm.
P.S. There are other storm before the calm benefits, too. We often take time to buy new underwear, clean the house so that we are not embarrassed when the pet sitter comes, and organize all the bills. This is good mental cleansing and those old BVDs really need to be tossed anyway.