Whether it’s returning to work after the bliss of Christmas or jumping back into it after a bit of time off for a holiday or personal leave, there’s always a struggle to get yourself motivated for work again.
As much as we all need some time off to avoid burn out, the return to normal life is always looming – but you don’t need to fear it! Arming yourself with the right skills and tools can help you get motivated again in no time.
Pre-Trip-Tip: Tie up all your loose ends before you go
It may be a little too late for those of you reading this on your first day back, but finishing everything properly before you head off can be a lifesaver.
Whether it’s a comprehensive handover to your team or simply making sure you’ve ticked off everything on your to-do list, knowing you’ve done everything needed will not only make it easier to get back into things with a clean slate, but will also let you relax more during your time away.
Read more: How to Avoid Burnout at Work and at Home
1. Block out the first part of your day to get to inbox zero and plan
Whether you’ve been gone for a day or a month, the emails always pile up the moment you log off. Getting into your admin mindset will help you feel less overwhelmed, and also give you a firm idea of what you’ve got ahead of you and what should be in your list of priorities.
Sort your emails thoroughly and figure out what needs action now, and what can wait for your high-priority items to be ticked off.
Whether you’re spending the day working in the office, from your kitchen table, or from a coworking space, find a quiet semi-alone area and plan out as much as you can for the coming week and/or month, before working back and filling in all the smaller to-do items your plan needs.
It’s much easier to be motivated when you can see your progress.
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However long your list is, sort it by priority and add an estimated time next to it – View anything that is time-consuming and difficult as one of your ‘frogs‘, and your simpler, shorter tasks as fast wins.
3. Communicate to your team
Setting the expectation that your first day back will be focussed on catching up rather than taking on new tasks is essential – unless you know you’re able to focus on getting a handle on your current list, things may fall by the wayside.
If you can commit your first day back fully to planning and getting your head back in the work zone, you’re setting yourself up to be able to step into your normal role on day 2 and be able to handle both planned and reactionary projects.
Read more: How Great Managers Delegate to Their Teams
4. Eat your frog
As tempting as it can be to ease back in on the first day back, taking on a big task (or even just a high priority one!) helps you reinvigorate your sense of achievement at work, and also kicks your brain back into gear.
If your frog is part of a bigger task, break it down until you have a substantial project that you know you can sink your teeth into and complete that day.
5. Wash down your frog with lunch & some quick wins
Just because you’ve been away doesn’t mean you need to chain yourself to your desk. Remember to take regular breaks still, and perhaps even treat yourself with a special lunch for your first day back on the job.
Your brain needs to get used to your usual workload again, and it’ll probably seem harder than before while you get back into the swing of things.
Don’t let yourself get too distracted though – you’ve still got to get through your list!
Nobody wants to spend all day slogging through the hard stuff, even when it’s helping create an easier tomorrow. By following your frog with a mini-break and some fast win tasks, you’re ticking off your list efficiently and helping yourself avoid burn out.
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6. Learn for next time
There’s a chance your first day back will show you all the gaps that were left before you headed away. Make sure you remember that panic next time your calendar is winding up to go away – if that doesn’t get you motivated to get organised in advance, nothing will.
Make a list of all the things that would’ve made it easier to hit the ground running this time around, and add it into your calendar just before your next block of time off – future-you will thank you!