Cleaning up after the snow break

You have been away from your office for a few days, or for a vacation, or dealing with some other set of circumstances that took you out of your regular routine. Now you are getting back to the office, or back home, and back to the routine. What do you do about everything that wasn’t done?

Are you one of those people who will be scrambling to ‘catch up’? Do you hit your office feeling like you are already hopelessly behind? Does it look like you will never catch up on all the work that piled up in your absence? Are you tired and stressed out already?

You’re not alone, and it doesn’t have to go that way!

What if, instead of diving in to all the work that piled up (or the chores, or whatever it is for you), you recognized that you were going to walk into a potential huge mess and made the appropriate plans? Have you ever considered giving yourself what Jack Canfield calls a buffer day?

Many of us think that they way to get back on top of things is to just dive in, and plow through as much as we can, as fast as we can. Sometimes that works, but more often it leaves you worn out, frustrated, and anxious – waiting for the other shoe to drop or for whatever you are not getting to to blow up.

What if you gave yourself time to bring everything back into existence? Time to review everything that is there and re-assess the relative importance of all that you have to do? Most likely what was really important 10 days ago might not be at the top of the pile, and something that wasn’t even on your radar 10 days ago has the potential to become a real problem if it isn’t dealt with quickly.

Here’s an example for you. Two years ago, I took a 10 day vacation to Ireland with my brother and sister. It was a fabulous trip, and I was really on vacation. I didn’t check my email while I was gone, and I had not set my phone up to work over there either. I knew the power of truly taking time off. (My brother and sister, on the other hand, were checking their email at every hotel we checked into. Not that there was anything they were going to be able to do, but they felt they had to check.)

Before I left for Ireland, I had set up my first two days back as buffer days. I was going to use these two days to unpack, restock the fridge, get settled in, and review everything that came in while I was gone. When I turned on my email, there were 893 new messages waiting for me. (You are already cringing, aren’t you?) But, I wasn’t fazed at all. I had set aside the time to sort through all of it. And, I was completely caught up with all that email before lunch!

When I really ‘went back to work’ the next day – I was very clear what needed to be done, and what my priorities were, and I was also up to speed on everything that had happened during my absence. No stress, no exhaustion, and no anxiety about any hidden crisis.

Give yourself the gift of time – set aside time to just review everything you are working on, get yourself up to speed on current status and priorities, then dive in!

I guarantee you will be focused in the right direction, and you will be proactive rather than reactive with your colleagues, clients, and projects.

Because, really, without a life, what’s the point?


  1. I love it, Terry! Buffer Day/s. Great idea. More Hoya Wisdom! 😉 ♥

  2. Mitch Tublin says:

    You know maybe we in the US have this whole vacation thing backwards. Everyone needs some down time.
    Enjoyed your post, thanks, Mitch

  3. Sue Painter says:

    I do this, too! A few years ago I started taking one day clear before a major trip and a few days clear on the back end. It makes SO much more sense, and helps me live a peaceful life. Otherwise, the overwhelm is not worth the time away!
    Sue Painter

  4. Wow — great idea! I love the Buffer Day! I’m going on vacation in two weeks and am going to build one in. Thanks!

  5. I love this Terry and I needed it! I tend to get antsie around the third day on vacation because I know what’s waiting for me when I get back. I love the buffer days! This is going to help me enjoy my next vacation. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. Lisa Manyon says:

    This is a wonderful approach. I often tell my clients to have a plan but be pliable — meaning give yourself permission to adjust your schedule and your own goals. Often we are too hard on ourselves.

    Write on!~


  7. Anita says:

    So very true…I love the term “Buffer” day. I have often done this, but your reminder is PERFECT!

  8. Terry, I was nodding up and down so vigorously in reply to your first questions on this post, I almost put my neck out! I love the idea of buffer days. No guilt because it is ‘planned’.Thanks!
    Lynn Moore

  9. Phil Dyer says:

    Love the idea of “buffer days”…what a great idea! Totally implementing that for my next vacation…

    Phil Dyer
    America’s Entrepreneur Strategist™

  10. Really smart planning – and makes the holiday so much more enjoyable! especially a wonderful place like Ireland – one of my best holidays, with the friendliest people!