Something about a Plan B…


Mercury is retrograde tomorrow.

For some of you, these are words that bring with them a forecast of impending doom, while others will welcome the respite and the inspiration. (If you’re counting, that’s the first re word I’ve used in this post…there will be more…)

Back when I was in partition land, one of my roles was to plan for business continuity and recovery in the event of major disruption of a disaster. (Yes, there was another re word…) It was all common sense, but when the brown smelly stuff did hit the whirly thing, we were in a position to quickly assess the situation, adapt our processes and recover much more quickly than others in the same situation were able to do. We had a Plan B that worked.

The same idea applies to Mercury retrograde.

Sure, it can be a time of heightened creativity and inspiration, but if things go wrong, it can be (at the least) frustrating. Having a Plan B won’t prevent Mercury incidents from happening, but if you’re flexible, the kicks won’t hurt quite as much.

As a writer, with (as yet) unpublished manuscripts in various states of rewrite residing within my laptop, I live in fear of a major crash, theft, or otherwise losing those hard fought words.

As a result, I back my words up constantly. Once to a hard drive, then to the cloud (in case my hard drive and computer is stolen). In the case of my fiction and manuscript work- for which I use scrivener– I also export to word every few days and then back those documents up in the same way…just in case. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be inconvenienced if the worst does happen, just that I’ll be mitigating my risk and minimising the impact. When I’m being really paranoid, especially if I’m travelling, I also email whatever it is I’m working on to myself – just in case I’m somewhere without access to my cloud solution.

However you choose to back up your data, the whole point is to have a Plan B.

This retrograde period, I’ll be travelling. Yes, I do still travel during Mercury retrograde- and always have done. Over the years I’ve gathered these (yes, I know they’re common sense) tips:

  • Always pack a toothbrush, a stick of deodorant and spare undies in your carry on- in case the bag doesn’t make it. This one comes courtesy of a Virgin flight to Perth where none of the bags were loaded on the plane. How does that happen?
  • Always carry your charging equipment with you- in case you need to empty your laptop/tablet battery entertaining yourself during long delays (same flight as above- 6 hours delay).
  • Always carry a real book with you in case of extra delays or for when the plane doesn’t level out and the seatbelt signs don’t get switched off. A few flights out of Wellywood back across the Tasman in wind will give you this experience.
  • Never get on the plane with a full bladder- if you’ve ever been stuck on the tarmac or on a flight out of Wellington in wind (see above) you’ll know why I say this.
  • Never keep the only copy of your travel documents in your check in luggage.
  • Never lock your house keys in your check in luggage. Don’t ask.
  • Always take out travel insurance. Always.


Another thing that tends to go by the wayside during Mercury retrograde is your schedule and to do list.

How to stay on top of what has to be done as everything else descends into chaos can be a challenge. My tip?

Make your to do list,  but keep it short. All that needs to be on it are the things that you absolutely have to do. Not the things that you think you should do, or the things that other people expect you to do, but just the things that absolutely must be done. Today. Or, the week ahead- what ever works best for you.

Write it in heavy black marker and put it somewhere you can see it and work on these things first- even if the deadline is still a couple of days away.

Then when unscheduled meetings pop up, rework is required, or you’re required to drop everything to help someone else out who hadn’t read my Mercury Survival Guide… when things get on top of you, when you start to stress that you’re not getting enough done, that you’re not across everything, take it out and remind yourself what’s really important right now.

When you’ve finished what’s on that list, then you can have a fist pump moment before moving to the next priority level.

If you keep it achievable, if crap does hit the fan, you’re still in good shape.

So yes, you can survive Mercury retrogrades with your professional reputation and personal stress levels intact, but only if you make friends with flexibility and contingency plans.