complete order 2015

I took three weeks off over the school holidays to enjoy a getaway with my family and switch off from work completely.  We had a wonderful break, although it’s been very hard to get back in to work mode and routine again. Perhaps it’s because we’re in the middle of winter (or I’m still in denial that our holidays have finished), but I’ve really struggled to focus and concentrate on tasks.

It’s common to be slow after coming back from holidays until our regular routine returns. Here are the top things I did to get myself back on track:

Make a Plan
Sit down and assess what needs to be done and when. Make a to-do list of everything and prioritise accordingly (into urgent and non-urgent tasks). Ensure you diarise everything so you know exactly what’s coming up and when it needs attention. This will help with any overwhelm at having to deal with it all.

Start Slow
Instead of scheduling lots of meetings for the first few days back, ease in to things slowly to transition back to work mode and regain focus. Your inbox will no doubt be overflowing with emails, so take time to go through them. If you need to, create three folders (urgent, tomorrow, non urgent) so you can quickly sort them and then deal with each (less overwhelming) folder individually. Avoid interruptions if you can!

Do the Easy tasks first
By doing the easier tasks first (filing, emails, phone calls), you’ll feel more accomplished and organised. It will also get your office environment back to ‘normal’ and you’ll have all of those little niggly things out of the way so you can focus your attention on the bigger tasks.

Work in small blocks of time
Break work tasks in to small blocks of time. Set a timer to get these tasks done e.g. 10, 20 or 30 minutes, so you don't need to concentrate for long periods of time. When you take a break, get up and walk around, go outside, sit in the sun for 10 minutes or get a drink. This will refresh you to start the next task.

Re-estabish good habits
It’s easy to fall out of previously established good habits after a long break and/or no routine. Sometimes we come back with a fresh new perspective and lots of great new ideas. Try to re-establish all those good work habits that help you to be productive and organised. Alternatively, now might be a good time to establish some good habits to help get more done.

Save favourite photos to your screensaver
Whilst this may seem a little crazy and to some a depressing reminder that you’re back at work, I find saving a selection of my favourite photos to my screensaver an enjoyable way to look at and appreciate what a lovely break I’ve had with my family (and to look forward to the next one).

Start planning your next holiday or do something fun
Having something to look forward to can make all your hard work seem worthwhile, so perhaps start planning your next holiday or short break away. It’ll also make you work hard to strive to achieve that goal. Also, have lunch with a friend, see a movie or do something fun which will keep you feeling great.

We all know that taking a holiday or having some time off work is good for us in many ways. Not only does it recharge and invigorate us, it helps gain some perspective and allows us to be ultimately more efficient. I finally got back into work mindset after about two weeks, but I put that down to the cold of our winter and not being able to get outside as much as I’d like. Once I started tackling projects and working with clients again, I regained my focus and sprang back into action.

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