Magnesium-white sands, azure skies and crystalline seas: you’ve had your holiday and, in spite of bumping back to Earth, your energy reserves are peaking. You could conquer anything; modest Atlantic swim, free-climb Everest, the destruction of Hercules! Yet, the first day back in the office could be the one thing that brings you down. But don’t worry, we have your back. Below are five things to focus on to alleviate that pre-work anxiety and ensure that your time off has prepared you for getting back to work.
1. Freshen things up:
Starting with you!
Have a good night’s sleep.
It’s simple but how many of us are guilty of prolonging our return to the office by procrastinating before hitting the pillow? (HINT: everyone!) Put the gadgets to one side and ensure you bag yourself those all-important eight hours’ beauty sleep – that tan will look all the better for it.
Get ahead with an early start.
Make time for yourself during the morning routine. Eat a healthy breakfast and avoid a stressful commute to the office. Arriving before others will allow you to get ahead of yourself, sans distraction, and order your day.
Go back with some new goals.
Whether professional or personal, having fresh things to focus on will inject new energy into those first days, weeks and, even, months. Whether you’re looking to climb to vertiginous heights on your career ladder or learn macramé, get stuck in.
2. Don’t stretch yourself too thin:
Avoid diary overload.
It’s tempting after time off to jump back in with all the meetings. However, this is no superhero move and will set you up for a day that lags. Manage your diary and expectations with care: ‘No, Sheila, I don’t have an hour to discuss the work-life balance of a mongoose.’
Scrutinise your to-do list.
Prioritise. Reprioritise. And then do it again. And again! Check in with your teams and clients to make sure that what you feel are the important things have remained so in your absence from the office. That meeting you want to hold might be so two weeks ago.
3. Catch up but don’t get lost in your inbox:
Take it from the top.
Group your emails by conversation and work backwards from your most recent messages. This way you can avoid reading much of the past and focus on what is relevant for the future. You’ll clear your inbox quicker and stay abreast of the office zeitgeist.
It’s inevitable that meetings will have crept in. In your absence, colleagues desperate for your time – it’s you after all! – will have dropped in calendar markers. Focus on your inbox first to check context before accepting anything. Find out what you’ve missed from an office amigo to help determine who really needs your time. No agenda? Stick it at the ender.
4. Stay focussed:
Like free radicals, humans will be bouncing by you to find out about your holiday, catch you up on the latest gossip (all that happened in my absence?!) and steal you away for coffee. Stay strong and stick to the task in hand to conquer that mighty to-do list.
But, a break is not a mistake.
Fun fact: focus also requires that you take regular breaks. When you plan your day build in time-outs and stick to them. Short periods away from your desk will lead to sustained periods of concentration when sat behind it.
Look after yourself.
Dodge the doughnuts and settle for the salad. Cancel the caffeine and grab the green tea. Take a walk and get a few minutes of air to avoid (here comes the science part) postprandial somnolence otherwise known as the after-lunch decline, or head-desk syndrome.
5. Think back to your time off:
Holiday humans are happy humans.
Holiday happiness is contagious, so don’t feel guilty about spreading the post-holiday cheer. But don’t be Richard. He went on holiday three months ago and is still sharing his 2,324 snaps with whomever will listen!