Getting back to work after the holidays or a vacation can be really difficult for leaders and employees. Even with the best of intentions, it can be easy to lose valuable time after returning to work from any type of break or vacation. This is one of the reasons that many employees do not enjoy taking time off. In fact, 55% of Americans do not take all of their allotted paid time off. Returning can be especially draining, making it feel like the time off wasn’t really worth it.
A recent article on Forbes.com gives some tips to avoid this feeling, allow you the maximum benefit from your time off.
Expect to be slow, and plan accordingly: Don’t expect to be at maximum productivity when you return from a break. Be generous when you schedule time to complete projects, knowing that it may take you a few days to get back into your groove. Easing back into work and setting realistic expectations for yourself will help you avoid feelings of failure after returning from time off.
Proactively hold off chatty co-workers: When you have gone several days without seeing people that you are used seeing every day, it can be easy to get caught up in long conversations about what happened while you were away. Schedule time in to talk to co-workers, but make sure you set boundaries. If you are interrupted while you are working on something that requires your full attention, plan a response such as, “I had a great holiday and I can’t wait to hear more about yours after I finish up this project. Can we meet in the breakroom for a cup of coffee in about 30 minutes?” Then set a time limit for your break and stick to it.
Commit to smaller blocks of time: Rather than scheduling yourself an hour or two before taking a break, on your first day back, schedule small chunks of time. Set a timer for 20 or 30 minutes and take a short break, even if the project isn’t complete. Stand up and stretch if nothing else. This will give you the energy you need to get through the day.
Commit to easier tasks: Don’t tackle your biggest project as soon as you get back into the office. Ease yourself in by taking on short, easy projects first. This will help you feel accomplished as you see your to-do list dwindling. Then once you’ve moved those shorter projects put of the way, you will be able to focus on the larger ones with your full attention.
Confirm immediate and immovable tasks: In order to commit to shorter, easier tasks, you need to understand which upcoming projects have immovable deadlines. Keep a list of these in plain sight so you don’t lose track of them. Try to pare anything that has to be done immediately into smaller tasks in order to keep them moving forward.
Start early or end late: Get a jumpstart on your week by committing to arriving early to staying late your first day (or few days) back. Spending a little extra effort for a few days, could allow you to get caught up and back to your normal productivity level even faster.
Share these ideas with your employees, especially those that seem to be struggling upon returning from breaks. This can be a great coaching opportunity.