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Return to work: How to get back on track after the Holidays

Return to work: How to get back on track after the Holidays
After a well-deserved break during the Holidays, it’s time to go back to work - and maybe return to the office. Taking time off was necessary for many and no doubt it did you a lot of good. But how do you get back to work without getting overwhelmed from day one by the many e-mails and (online) meetings that fill up your agenda again and find a new - or different - rhythm to achieve your new goals?

Here are 5 steps to get back on track with work after a holiday break.

1. Make an overview to get organized
First things first, what exactly do you need to do? Organize yourself and make it yourself easier by visualizing your to-dos. Write all the things down that needs to be done this week or month. It´s a simple task that gives you clarity. Maybe, in the beginning, you will feel overwhelmed by all the to-do´s on the list, but it will give you direction and motivate you to get more done. Once you have your overview for the week or month, give yourself 2-3 big tasks to complete every workday.

2. Handle your inbox
Your inbox is probably overloaded with emails. Don’t expect to bring your inbox to zero emails in the first days. Tackle down those emails by using the Only Handle It Once method. That means you take right away a decision with regards to the email.

There are 5 options:
  1. Deleting: you through your entire mailbox and delete everything you already can delete like newsletters;
  2. Archiving: you don’t need to do anything with the email but it contains information you need later. For example an invoice;
  3. Doing: you answer the email immediately or do what’s asked. It contains little tasks you can perform under the 5 minutes or it are emails that require a short answer;
  4. Delegate;
  5. Plan: the e-mail contains a task or requires a longer answer. Put it on your to-do list;

If something’s truly urgent, the sender will probably email you again or give you a call.

3. Push off non-urgent meetings
You didn’t see or hear your colleagues or people you work with for a while, so everybody is asking for (online) meetings. Moreover, the first 10 to 15 minutes of these meetings contain congratulations for the new year, questions about how you spent the holidays and what your intentions and goals are for the coming year. Of course, these are important too but prioritise. It’s wise to use your time checking things off your to-do list instead of sitting in hour-long meetings.

What you can do:
  • Reschedule those meetings that are not urgent on your calendar for later in the week or even month;
  • Organise a separate zoom call or New Year's reception where there is room for this small talk.
  • If something’s really urgent
  • Try starting the conversation over email
  • Set up a call during unproductive moments like commuting
  • When a meeting is really necessary, define the agenda items, time the meeting and meet for max. 30 minutes.

4. Put distractions aside
Your phone and social media are your biggest distractions. It’s so easy to lose a couple of hours on your phone or social media. Put away your phone and don´t open Facebook, LinkedIn or any other unnecessary page on your laptop. And actually, you should be able to do this throughout the year. A good resolution?

5. Don’t give yourself too much pressure
It´s normal that you will not be able to go full force and focus for 9 hours straight after spending some days off. A lot of your colleagues and/or clients will be in the same situation. So no one expects you to have everything sorted and addressed right away. Give yourself the time to get used to the routine again and allow yourself to take some (little) breaks throughout the day. The easier today goes, the easier it will be to get through the week.

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