2/52: Six Strategies To Get Back Into Work After A Break
Updated: Jan 8
The return to work after any break can be challenging. Considering we've got Christmas just behind us, family, school holidays, terrible bushfires and so much else on our minds, I thought it would be good to share some tips on getting back into the swing of things. Hopefully this will help you draw some focus from what can be a foggy first week of work and set you up for a great 2020 (I just couldn't bring myself to do the '2020 vision' pun... #overdone).
Having worked in recruitment for more than 15 years, and a further 5+ years as a high school teacher, I’m becoming increasingly aware of how important it is to look after our mental health. The tips I’ve put together look not only at how to be productive but have worked well for me in maintaining a balanced approach to life and my own general mental health. I couldn't think of a better time of year to re-visit them:
1. Clarify your purpose:
What's the big picture? What are your work goals? What's your Why?
It can pay to take a small step back and look around. What's this job all about and what are we trying to achieve here. What's my contribution in this organisation and what are the things I'll need to do this week/month/quarter/year to know I've done my bit? Check out Simon Sinek's "Start with Why".
2. Write a list (regularly):
What needs to be done? Put in place a 'To Do' list you can use every day (I use OneNote - but a piece of paper is also excellent!). I have a section for work stuff and personal stuff and by keeping mine in the cloud (think OneNote, Notes, Evernote, etc), I can pop stuff in there from my phone anytime. Cloud-based note apps are cross-platform so I can use my iPhone, Windows machine and mac laptop without losing a full stop
Try using check boxes instead of bullet points. I get great satisfaction when I can tick off a task!
3. Re-establish your routine:
Take some time in your first day or two back at work to set up your calendar. Prioritise the most important personal and work-related events and lock them in. Feeling organised yet?
4. Try and set a non-work goal:
Think about fitness, music, art, yoga, a personal project – something you can sink your teeth into that isn't work. It doesn’t have to be a Big Hairy Audacious Goal but that might help (see My 2020 BHAG from last week's blog)…this can bring balance to your work and life and can be great for your overall mental health. You might also meet some new people, get fitter, knock an item off your bucket list and overall find you're a happy and healthier person in and out of the office.
5. Book something in to look forward to:
I'm a big fan of booking in my leave early (just ask Paul or Kristen😉) as it gives me something positive in the future to focus on. I don't want to go on leave with unfinished business, so the very act of locking in my leave helps me to focus at work and know that I've got a nice bit of downtime in the future. It doesn't have to be a holiday though, book in a winery tour, dinner out, a concert, a weekend away with (or without) the kids, a bushwalk, or even watching the Star Wars Trilogy (there's only 3 yeah?). It's about having things to look forward to, and for me, this brings great focus to what I'm doing in the present.
6. Be kind to yourself:
Get plenty of sleep. Drink lots of water. Rest and fluids people, it's not just for when you're unwell. Allow yourself a few days to get back to your best and then enjoy what lies ahead.
All the best to everyone in their first week back and especially for a great 2020. May we keep an eye out for one another, celebrate the wins and enjoy the journey.
I’m no guru in the productivity space so I’m really keen to hear your thoughts. How do you get back into the swing of work after a break? How do you maintain a productive but balanced life?
Please leave your comments below and feel free to reach out to me for a further discussion.