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Open-Thread Wednesday: Getting Back in the Game When You’ve Been Sidelined

DL aftermathSpring may not be in the air just yet (at least not here in Chicago, where the wind chill factor has sent us below zero for a few days this week), but it’s certainly coming soon. No, not March 20. February 12.

That’s the day Twins pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training (the rest of the squad will join them on the 15th), even though they won’t play their first regular-season game until April 1.

That amounts to six weeks of prep time before the season begins. And it’s necessary! Jumping right into the regular season without the players first getting into condition and (re)learning to work together as a team could spell disaster. When they’ve been sidelined for a while—whether that’s due to the off-season or to an injury that’s landed them on the disabled list—players need time to get back into shape before getting back into a regular-season schedule.

The principle also applies outside of baseball, I think. Sometimes events in life conspire to sideline us. We get ill or injured, someone we care for gets injured or becomes ill, or there’s some other crisis that demands we temporarily set our work aside and devote our full attention to the more pressing issue.

But what do we do when it’s over, and it’s time to return to our normal routines? Is it wise to dive back in head first, and attempt to do everything we normally would—including all the things that piled up while we were attending to more important matters? Or do we risk becoming overwhelmed if we do that? Is it better to take careful stock of all the tasks that have accumulated, and make some decisions about which ones we can realistically accomplish on time, which we might have to delay, and which we might have to accept will simply not get done?

I was recently sidelined myself, and decided not to try to do everything—at least not all at once—lest I burn out. I returned to Chicago a week later than I’d originally planned. It’s been a while since you’ve seen a post from me here. And the online reading group I’m part of? I will never catch up, and won’t beat myself up trying—I’ll just rejoin the group when they get to the next logical starting point.

But I have a distinct advantage this year: since I’m on sabbatical, I have more flexibility than I otherwise would. No doubt I’d be struggling a lot more if this were a regular academic year for me.

How do you approach getting “back in the game” after being sidelined, especially if you have to return to a full workload almost immediately? If you have suggestions to share, please do so in the comments!

[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by slgc]

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