The #1 Thing That Prevents Overwhelm At Work (After Being Away On Vacation Or Leave)

How do you get back into the swing of your business after being gone or away?

I want to share one thing I do, and it’s applicable to anyone – entrepreneurs especially – who don’t have people filling in for them while on vacation, out on maternity leave, etc.

After the last nine days at Disney World, there is a definite risk of re-entry hell. With so many simultaneous projects going on, it would be incredibly easy to forget where everything was at, where it needs to go, and the litany of communication channels (Slack, Voxer, Email) make it even harder.

So how does one cope with that?

It’s incredibly important to remember this one SUPER important principle:

What you do BEFORE you leave is way more important than what you do after!

So this post today is for everyone, regardless of your schedule right now. It’s about writing your Pin Drop Document.

What Is The Pin Drop Document

This is the most important thing you can do prior to leaving for any length of time. The Pin Drop Document is something I came up with after using my GPS one day and realized…when you open up Google Maps, you need to figure out WHERE you are, before you can figure out how to get where you’re going. The pin drop isolates your exact location in the moment and gives you the anchor for the route to the destination.

The Pin Drop Document is the document that lists out the exact location of your projects, timelines, client work, etc. at the time you’ve left.

It seems weird to do at the time, because you’re in the thick of it – and all the details are clear and sharply in view. But after a few days or weeks or whatever length of time it is you’re away…you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ve forgotten where you left off.

Let me give you an example that I’m sure you all can relate to…

Whenever I travel, I park in a parking garage. When I park the car, I tell myself, “Okay I’m on level three, row B.” And I say it again and again, thinking that surely I’ll remember. Then I go away for a week, fill my brain with a million memories, and when I return, I’m totally disoriented and can’t remember where I parked. I’ve learned this the hard way and now I take a photo of the sign stating my level and row, and I can refer back to it when I come home.

The Pin Drop Document is your snapshot of what’s happening the day you leave.

What Do You Put In The Pin Drop Document

Everything! Even the stuff you’re sure to remember. For me, my Pin Drop includes important dates, deadlines, projects in the queue, and what I anticipate will be worked on while I’m gone. This is because I have a team under me working. For those of you who are 1-person teams, there won’t be any work while you’re gone, so your document will have a list of what you accomplished the week before you left, and what will need to be done the week you return.

I would organize it like this:

  1. Projects/Clients wrapped up this week (describe)
  2. Projects/Clients in progress (and fill out what should be done while you’re gone if you have a team)
  3. Projects/Clients next steps after you return (describe)

Prepare Your Time/Calendar For Post Vacation

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to go to your calendar and BLOCK off the week you return, with ridiculous detail. If you haven’t read my post on how to substitute time instead of stacking it, you should. Because you’ll use that concept in your calendar for the week you return.

I did this prior to leaving for my trip to Disney World. I wrote up my Pin Drop Document, gave it to the team, and then went to my calendar and pre-booked a few meetings, work sessions, and the like so it was all ready to go.

When I opened up my calendar this morning, it was a full calendar – but to my relief, I had blocked time off to catch up/work on existing projects that were coming down the queue fast. I’m literally writing this email at 4:00pm EST on Monday afternoon, mostly back on track – simply because I had the Pin Drop Document and my calendar ready for re-entry.

Why Not Just Use Your Existing Project Management Software?

I know a lot of people are probably wondering why you would put it all in a document instead of just opening up Trello, Asana, etc.

The answer is simple: Overwhelm.

Have you ever logged into a PM software after a week away? Especially if you have a team?

Notifications galore. Dates and cards and tasks everywhere. You’ll probably have to look in multiple locations. You’ll have to get your bearings again. You’re already going to be overwhelmed as it is, the Pin Drop Document is literally one place with a simple list of all the things you stopped doing, were in the middle of doing, or are about to do.

You can share with your team members, or you can go to their PM software and set up assignments ahead of time, but no matter how you do it, the Pin Drop Document is 100% the thing that keeps me sane after being away for a week.

Use it as your anchor so that re-entry is a breeze!

If you guys/gals would like to see a sample of a Pin Drop Doc, you can check it out here. Please choose FILE > MAKE A COPY if you want to drag it into your account.

I hope that helps!