So, it’s hey-ho, hey-ho, it’s off to work you go – now that your summer holiday has come to an end. But this doesn’t have to be hard work. Here are some tips on easing yourself back into the office without losing that sunny outlook.
If you’ve been canny, you’ll have made sure you have fresh clothes ready to wear for your first day back. More importantly, go through your business diary the day before to remind yourself of the tasks you were doing before you left. Though you cannot predict the progress made by colleagues, separate them into those that are important and those that could have become urgent.
Be realistic – reserve tasks for the second day
Understand that you won’t get everything done. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by a long list of tasks, acknowledge that you cannot tackle every single one on the first day. If, as suggested above, you have sifted the important from the urgent, concentrate on what you can achieve. Another way of dealing with the backlog is to schedule tasks for the second day, rather than launching into them on the first day.
Prioritise people and projects
Do some timetabling and prioritise what deserves your attention. You may have colleagues dropping by your desk and asking for help or updates on progress with your projects. While you may want to help them then and there, you might have to gently tell them you’ll assist them as soon as you’ve cleared up some other things you’re working on.
Take a break and walk and talk
Returning to work after a holiday is a bit like being a deep-sea diver returning to land; give yourself time to adjust to the pressure. Take regular breaks from your desk and use them to walk around the office and let people know you’re back. This is also an ideal time to share any gifts you might have brought colleagues (you did set aside part of your holiday budget for little treats, didn’t you?)
Archive those emails
Is your office full of cautious carbon copier colleagues? If it is, you’ll find that you’re CCd on all sorts of emails that don’t really concern you. Don’t try to read through them all – it will take ages and merely eat into your productivity. One tip I’ve read is to quickly scan your inbox when you get back and cherry-pick the important messages (i.e. those from the boss). Place the rest in an archive folder. If people need something, they’ll remind you of the email they sent and you can then look it up in the archive.
De-clutter your desk…
A break from the office can make us look at our lives and work with fresh eyes. What seemed important before you left appears less so now. Start small and clear your desk and drawers of anything you don’t need; maybe this is papers from past projects or dried out pens and cracked pencils. De-clutter to give yourself a fresh environment and to make your workspace feel that little bit different than before.
…and your career
A holiday gives us the chance to reconnect with friends and family and realise once more what’s actually important to us. This can bring your work life into sharp relief. If you’re not feeling rewarded in your career, then use that emotion to make plans to move up in the company or to move on. Remember the old saying – a change is as good as rest.