Yes, I’ve invented a word. Rerailed.
Rerailed is the opposite of derailed. Derailed means, of course, that you got completely sidetracked from whatever you were supposed to do. Sidetracked? Off track? Derailed? I notice a lot of train metaphors here. Huh.
Derailed is no fun. It usually means unforeseen obstacles, aggravation, distraction, and then that nagging sense of guilt at bedtime that keeps you staring at the blades of the ceiling fan until 2 a.m., wondering if they’re going to buzz down and nip your head off for being such a lazy layabout who never gets her to-do list done.
Or maybe that only happens to me.
In any case, I figure if “derail” means your plans get messed up, there must be a word for when you get back to those plans and finally finish them. Thus, rerailed.
There are three simple ways to rerail yourself after a distraction, setback, obstacle, vacation, or apocalypse. Here they are.
1. Start your to-do list over.
If something distracts you from your to-do list, don’t try to get caught up on all of it the moment you get back. That breeds discouragement, and discouragement won’t help you. For instance, let’s say you had things to do every day this week, but you got sick Monday and Tuesday. When you come back on Wednesday, don’t try to do Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday’s work. Just start over with Monday’s. Or do Wednesday’s and find time to catch up on Monday and Tuesday later. The last thing you need when you’ve just gotten rerailed is to let a discouraging workload derail you again.
2. Follow the bread crumbs.
Some people (and I’m not naming names here, but let’s tentatively say that this might include me) can get out of “work mode” easily. One little distraction in our week, and suddenly we feel like goofing off for the next three days. The very thought of returning to work makes us slightly claustrophobic. Our breathing increases. We feel the urge to run screaming outside. If you are that sort of person, you may need a trail of bread crumbs to get yourself chained back to the desk chair. Start with a small task to complete in the next hour. One small task, and then you can quit if you want. When you’ve finished that one, see if you can’t get just one more done. Then another. You may get one thing done, or two, or five, before you really do give in and go outside, but you’ve gotten yourself back into work mode, and tomorrow morning it’ll be easier to return to the routine.
3. Get up early. Shower. Dress.
This may sound off-topic, but it’s especially important for those of us who write (and work) at home. This morning, I was heading back to work after almost an entire week off. Understandably, I doubted my ability to pay attention to work for more than five minutes. But I set my alarm for seven-thirty, got up, and put on a nice outfit. I gave myself a task which had to be started at 9 a.m. The act of getting up early and dressing nicely put me into work mode faster than a thousand pep-talks in front of the mirror could have. And here I am, blazing so far through my to-do list that I actually got to my blog, which is usually the first thing to suffer on days like this.
What about you? Any tricks to get your wayward schedule rerailed and off to a good start?