This year, returning to work after the holidays might prove to be a bit more challenging than it was in the past. Why? Because you’ve likely been spending your time off in the very same place as you work – your home. Returning to a physical office space helps you brain switch back to work mode after holiday mode. It will take a more conscious effort to turn home back into office, especially if you don’t have a home office or dedicated working space.
Be conscious of your mindset.
Returning to work when you’re working from home requires a bit of extra mental discipline. Be strict with yourself about returning to work. Don’t let yourself do a quick task around the house until it’s time to take a break from work. Remind yourself that it’s no longer the holidays and you need to focus on working now. This isn’t fun, but it is necessary.
Do not start the day by checking emails.
Starting your first day back at work by checking you emails will do nothing other than make your frustrated. Yes, there are likely hundreds of unread messages, but none of them so important that they can’t wait another an hour.
Take time to get things organized.
Take the first hour back at work to get yourself re-situated and organized. Tidy up your space, get your coffee and your water, then log in to Slack or Zoom. Check in with your team or a co-worker. The simple act of communicating with a colleague has a twofold bonus. One, it helps to put you back into a working mindset, and two, connection is a mood booster.
Have a plan for the day.
Identify what tasks absolutely must get done, then rank them in order of importance. Keep this list visible throughout the entire day so you can refer to it as needed. When you have a plan for your work day, it’s much easier to get back on track when your mind starts to wander.
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Be strategic with your email.
Without a clear plan to go through your emails, you’ll end up lost in your inbox for hours and might not get to everything that’s actually important. Having a strategy to tackle emails will not only help you get through your inbox with at least a little less stress.
The best way to start is by skimming through your inbox looking at subject lines only. Use the star function to categorize messages that need to be responded to and that you need to read. Once you’ve gone through your messages, filter them by category and work through them one category at a time. By focusing on one type of message, you’ll be able to get through them quicker and maintain your focus.
Remember, everyone else is probably feeling exactly the way you are, so it’s okay to take a little bit longer to ease back into things again – especially this year.