Here are a few tips to help you smooth your re-entry into the daily grind so you can stay relaxed … and get things done.
Plan for the week ahead
Before leaping headfirst into your working week, it’s important to get a broad idea of how things were while you were gone. This way, you’ll be generally up to speed before diving deep into the day-to-day details of your work.
Don’t schedule an enormous amount of meetings and deadlines during your first day back. That’ll just leave you feeling overwhelmed and behind on your work. Ideally, try to keep your first day back free from any meetings or appointments — keep it as open as possible so that you have the entire day available to catch up and not feel overwhelmed. Take several minutes to plan your day before diving in, focus on priorities, and don’t be afraid to ask for support. If you find yourself facing an avalanche of work, try to prioritise your tasks. Handle emergencies first. Decide what’s most important to your job, your boss, and your project list. Look at the big picture, not what comes to you sequentially. And, most importantly, learn to say “no” to low priority items hurled your way.
Check in with your team and customers
Once you are back in the office and up to date with priorities, it’s a good idea to touch base with your co-workers to let them know what you’re working on and where the focus will be for the next few days. Take some time to reconnect with your clients as well, to let them know they’re top of mind and that you’re back if they need anything. It’s a simple customer service touch point that can make a big impression.
Beware of spending too much time responding to the emails you missed while you were out as it’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of responding to every email without considering whether it’s the best use of your time on the first day back. Don’t confuse email activity with productive work, so be strategic and only respond to emails that are time sensitive.
Clean your desk and stay focused
Even if you left a pristine desk before taking off for vacation, chances are you will come back to a jumbled mess of reports, unopened mail and Post-It notes. Take a few minutes to sort through everything, get important documents labelled for follow-up and action, and toss out reports that are no longer relevant. This will help you feel more organised as you get into the swing of things.
There’s bound to be a bunch of distractions waiting for you back at the office (catch-up with co-workers, new employees etc). Don’t waste too much time chatting or scrolling through the news. Try to focus on your work.
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