I’m back. After four wonderful weeks of vacation with my family, I’m back at home (well actually, I wrote this on the plane en route to my first speech of the season) and back to work. I’m definitely a little foggy, but I think as soon as I get ramped up again, I’ll be better for it—the first long break I’ve had in 18 years of work (I am not counting maternity leave, because—let’s be clear—that doesn’t count!).

I’ve had so many experiences that I’d love to share, but this is a blog about being effective at work, not about traveling with kids around Europe. As I talked with Craig about what might be an appropriate topic for the first post back, we both had the same idea—the value of a reset.

Every once in a while, everyone needs a reset. It’s a little like my iPad. I used my iPad pretty heavily on vacation: reading magazines, using an app to follow the Olympics, iCloud photo sharing with the grandparents, checking Facebook, consulting Trip Advisor (how did I travel before TripAdvisor?), using TripIt to keep track of our very full itinerary, etcetera, etcetera. I would bounce from one app to another, opening a new one without closing the previous one.

It was usually our daughter who would find about 20 apps all open and running in the background and chastise me for my e-untidiness. She was right. Not only did having so many programs running kill the battery in a hurry, but every once in a while, the whole thing would just become flaky. Programs would stop responding and things that normally work just wouldn’t. The solution, of course, was to turn it off and back on again. Just a quick reset to clear the cache and start anew.

Do you need a reset?

Four weeks without work was the first time I’ve actually powered down in a long time. It made me realize that I had a lot running in the background. I know that there were things that were concerning me, or generally taking up mindshare before I left…but now I can’t seem to remember what they were.

Sure, I’m reopening many of the projects I had going before I left, but somehow each one feels like a fresh start. After a month away, I need a call with each client to refresh on the goals of the project and to hear how the teams have progressed over the summer. I’m so glad to have that opportunity to reset, which you don’t normally get in the middle of a project.

Did you get a reset this summer? If not, are you paying the price in having too many half-finished activities cluttering your thinking, un-attributable uneasy feelings hanging over you, or occasional glitches? How can you hit your reset button, even if you can only power down for a day on the weekend?

If you did reset, which activities would you restart and which would you abandon? What task would you reopen first and what would you like to accomplish before opening a second one?

The petty stuff

Just as a coincidence, the speech I gave last week was all about getting out of the weeds and adding more value. I took 250 people through a workshop on how to avoid the petty stuff and instead re-center around the work that matters most. I thought a lot about all the ways that I can take advantage of this fresh start to re-commit to greater focus, more important and less urgent activities, and switching off at the end of the day.

Now if only I can remember to close each app on my iPad after I’m done with it, I’ll be golden!

Further Reading

Fresh Start Every Morning

A Two Week Cleanse

On the Merits of Productive Disengagement