Hurray! It’s a wrapped and we survived the first week back at work in the new year.
It goes without saying that the first week of January is the most dreadful time of year. Not to mention, the first day back at work is the most depressing day ever.
After almost two weeks of holidays, copious amount of food and drinks, and practically living in pyjamas the whole time, even the most highly motivated and ambitious individuals often need to re-learn the art of getting back to work, how to re-engage the brain and be productive.
With that in mind, I thought I’d do a little write-up on tips that I always find useful when returning to work – every time after a holiday. Essentially these are tips on how I survived the week that had just gone.
- Block your diary – I often to do this before I switch on the out of office before I kicked off the holiday. If you have an assistant, tell him/her to not accept any meetings on the first day of your return. If you can’t avoid a total no-meeting day, at least block the first couple of hours for yourself. This way you have time to go through the things that you need to attend to, re-plan and re-prioritise your work accordingly.
- Set realistic expectations – It is after all your first day back at work. Expect to be slow and ease gently. Just like the engine of a car, your brain needs time to warm up especially after a few weeks of not being fully engaged with technical and complex matters.
- Tackle the easy tasks first – This is the complete opposite of what any productivity guru will tell you. It is often believed that you need to tackle the most difficult task of the day first thing. However, I always find getting the easy tasks out-of-the-way helps me to get back into the swing of things more effectively. It also helps to get all the admin/ mundane tasks done and dusted. These could be deleting those no-longer-relevant emails (I am looking at you Christmas Jumper Day or Bring Your Child to Work Day emails – which obviously are so yester-years), setting up periodic meetings with key stakeholders (e.g. monthly 1-2-1 with your boss/team etc), accepting meeting invites that have been sent to you or simply blocking your diary on days when you want to hit the gym at lunch time/ after work or for a date night with your partner. Even better, if you have already worked out your next holiday plans, go ahead and block those dates in your diary or your leave system. What better way to get back to work by thinking about your next holiday, which means you already have something to look forward to!
- Set time for breaks – Unless you have been writing a thesis during your holiday, chances are your brain is not used to being engaged continuously for a very long time. Break your tasks into smaller chunks and give yourself a break – top up the water bottle, have coffee breaks, walk to another colleague’s cubicle and exchange your holiday stories – not only you’re moving but also building relationships with your colleague).
- Leave on time – If your new year’s resolution is to have better work-life balance, then don’t kick off the year by staying at work longer than required (unless you are in a crisis, then you have to do what you have to do!).
Remember, we are humans and not robots after all. Applying one of these steps should help you get over the holiday blues and get you back into your regular routine – gently.