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Woe is Sandy: 5 Steps to Stress-Free Return to Work

You can make a seamless transition after the mess of the storm

(Image: Thinkstock)

Okay, so I’m already frustrated. My commute to work was a delayed hell process; I lost my phone in the confusion of it all; I have dozens of emails to read, and even more meetings and interviews to reschedule; and I still have pressing matters at home to deal with in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

*Scream*

Woo-sah.

If you’re coming back to your home and office and slowly rebuilding things after the mess Sandy left, believe me, I’m with you—confusion, urgency, conflict and all. At times like this, it’s best to have an demeanor of patience, gratitude, and organization. Here are five quick steps to make getting your mojo back that much easier:

Stop. Take a deep breath. Smile. And in that order. It will help release the tension, get your mind right and improve your attitude. (I just did it and felt the stank lift right off of me.)

Prioritize, from big, more pressing stuff to the smaller, its-not-that-serious stuff. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all you need to get done if everything seems unorganized or like an emergency. Take time to evaluate whether you really need to answer those hundred e-mails right now or get to work on a looming deadline for a project, vendor, or client.

Delegate the smaller things if necessary, such as errands, faxes, and phone calls. Handle the most pressing matters first and the rest will have to wait. If what’s going on at home isn’t a life-or-death situation, focus on that after work.

Keep lines of communication open. Whether you use social media, e-mail, phone or smoke signal, be sure your peers and others are aware of your circumstances and have a clear idea as to how you’re handling things. Maybe email or call them to let them know if you have limitations (power outage, backlog, technical issues, etc.) that could cause delays. Give them an estimated time of resolution or follow up. Thank them for their patience. Change your voice-mail message to reflect these issues or have an answering service pick up calls until you’re able to handle them.

Be patient and give benefit of the doubt. It’s obvious that it will take a while for things to get totally back to normal, so keep that in mind when you haven’t gotten an answer to a question quick enough or there’s a delay in getting what you need to get done. The whole world didn’t experience Sandy, but there can be a domino effect in the aftermath. Be conscious of people’s current limitations and find innovative ways to work around them. Have plans B and C in place in case you need them.

I’ll be trying my best to do these steps every day this week, and even beyond Sandy. Hey, sometimes life can seem like one big, crazy emergency— storm or no storm— so it’s good to have habits in place that will help you remain calm and ready for anything.

How have you dealt with the stress of rebounding and going back to work after Sandy? #Soundoff and hit me up on Twitter @JPHazelwood.

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