When returning to work after being on annual leave, it can be difficult to regain your rhythm… How out of the loop am I? How many emails will I come back to? Did my colleagues manage okay without me?
It’s understandable that you’ll want to pick up where you left off without missing a beat but tackling too much too soon will only make you feel stressed and overwhelmed.
Here are six simple steps for steadily getting back into the swing of things…
1. Plan and prioritise
On your first day back, write down 3-5 realistic goals you’d like to achieve by the end of the day, with a few extra tasks you’d like to complete by the end of the week. This could include clearing your inbox or reading your company newsletter.
This will help you to prioritise what’s urgent and determine what can wait. You’ll also get the satisfaction of ticking things off as you go!
2. Reconnect with colleagues
Take a moment to have a general catch up with your colleagues. Whether you went away with friends or ferried the kids around all week, share what you got up to and ask them how they’ve been before getting down to business and seeking their advice on which projects, teams or stakeholders need your attention first.
Whether it’s in-person or on a call, catching up with colleagues is a simple way to ease yourself in – and it may even boost your mood and energy levels too!
3. Get help from handovers
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel… The handover notes you (hopefully) created before you went away serve as a great reminder of where you left off. You could even ask one of your closest colleagues to update it in time for your return.
Whether you were waiting for feedback on a proposal, expecting a client to confirm budgets, or you had a designer scheduled in for creative development, your handover notes are a clear indication of what should have been actioned in your absence.
4. Organise your inbox
Returning to a fully stocked inbox can feel daunting. Rather than attempting to digest every email at once, block some time out in your diary to methodically work your way through them.
Not sure where to start? Scan through the subject lines then filter them by category. Or you could start with the emails that look the most straightforward and work your way up to those that require a little more thought and a conversation or two.
5. Manage the meeting mayhem
Try not to overload yourself with project-specific meetings or in-depth strategy and planning discussions straight away. Whether it’s a client call or an in-person meeting with senior leaders, you may need to buy yourself a couple of days to get your head in the game.
To achieve this, you could schedule some time to go on ‘do not disturb’ or leave your ‘out of office’ replies on for an extra day.
6. Shift your focus
If you’ve been hit with the holiday blues, or you’re feeling uneasy about your return after entertaining the kids all summer, try to think about what you’ve got to look forward to at work. Whether it’s an upcoming conference, an exciting project you recently pitched for or a social event with your team, it can be helpful to focus on the future and remind yourself of what’s to come.
These six simple steps will help you to get up to speed without going 150mph on day one.
Crank up the music and wind down the windows because it’s time to get yourself back to life, back to reality.