Living in New Hampshire, we know our big weather is our snowstorms. This year’s October snowstorm was our third largest power outage in history, following the December 2008 Ice Storm and February 2010 Wind Storm. Snowfall is the most in New Hampshire for October in 140 years. My photos only show you what I saw during the week from my neighborhood. You don’t see the downed wires, the piles of branches by the roadside, the shelters (pet-friendly!) which many people went to.
We bought a generator after two major storms in the past two years, plus several smaller ones. Power/internet/phone were out for a week -two weeks each time. Seemed to be a new way of life, a “new normal.” We are, I realize, fortunate. We extended friends and neighbors an invitation to use showers, spend the night or whatever they needed. And plowed out a neighbor from the snowfall when she had trouble.
This outage was an interruption in life, just as major life events such as empty nesting or caregiving or marriage can change our way of life.
Just differently – and yet flexibility, adaptability, and other coping skills are required here, too.
I learn something new each storm or outage about how to better organize before, during or after. And, judging from client comments, we all had some insights this past week.
Sleep, quiet time, exercise and eating – at least on a fairly regular schedule, if not healthy – are important, to me, to keep my head on straight and deal with it all. I protect this, because it helps everyone around me as well.
Power working has its limits: As much as I was delighted by the quiet, uninterrupted work time, four days in a row brought on mental fatigue, i.e., I get absent-minded, distracted and find it harder to focus on the one thing I’m doing. The fourth day in, I caught a few mistakes in detailed work, happily before they left my desk. But what didn’t I catch? Next time, I’ll be more mindful. I’ll break up the day, have transition tasks to give my brain something different to work on or have fun with – like playing ball with my dog, Sanford – more of this would have helped.
An “on the go” to do list: I keep my work/home to do list in Excel with colors separating aspects of my business, and one color for personal things I need to do during the workday. So categories are: coaching, onsite organizing, my book, workshops, NAPO/ICD professional positions/volunteering, personal, etc.
Orderly yet creative – a nice mix. And the structure forces me to think in smaller steps (read: less procrastination, easier to get started!) During this storm, I added a new column, “Needs internet or email.”
We had access to one car during the storm, and one of us had to be at home dog sitting and generator-sitting at all times. So my office mate and I traded off time spent at our local cafe which had internet access. I sorted my list by “Needs internet/email” when I arrive at The Black Forest and quickly got those things done.
Don`t add anything more – unless you’re being generous to a neighbor: During times of change, whether it’s a big change in your life or something like this, resist the urge to add more. Someone asks you a big favor. You’re asked to head a committee. Wait until the change is over or under control. You’ll have greater clarity.
Every once in awhile, stop the technology. I loved the uninterrupted time. I cause my own interruptions when I stray from my project or marketing to check that one email, read that one post – which turns into a half hour. The quiet, uninterrupted, singular focus was delightful and energizing.
Coming back from an interruption or change in schedules, don’t expect to get caught up your first day back. The world has gone on … so take it one priority at a time.