Getting Back to Work: Tips for Overcoming Distractions and Managing your Day
Working during the summer also means having to take time off for vacations and trips. Spending time with family and loved ones is super important when balancing your home life with your work life, but getting back to work after a fun vacation can be difficult. I mean, if you just spent the last week laying on a beach and relaxing, it’s pretty hard to switch back to an office chair and emails.
Since even I have to take a break sometimes, I’ve been reading a great book called Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind. It has a lot of great tips for helping you avoid distractions, getting into work mode and generally do your best work everyday. Here are the best tips I’ve come across so far:
1. Don’t rush back
I know I hate being away from the office for more than a few days and I can’t wait to get back to it after vacationing, but not everyone shares my enthusiasm. You don’t have to feel bad if you’re not quite ready to go back to the office right after your vacation. In fact, it’s actually good to have a few buffer days. Take an additional 1 or 2 days off between when you get back from your trip to returning to the office, or if you have to go back right away, make the first few days half days. Easing back into work mode from vacation mode will actually help stave off being distracted or unmotivated!
2. Multi-tasking really is the enemy
When you’ve been gone from work on vacation, or even out sick, coming back to the office can be jarring. You have an inbox full of emails, backlogged tasks that need completing, as well as your usual day-to-day needs. Your first instinct might be to try and finish everything all at once, but all the multi-tasking will only stress you out more. Take things one step at a time as to not get overwhelmed. Also, focusing on the singular task at hand will make sure you’re doing it correctly so you don’t have to redo it later. I also suggest starting with small (but still important) tasks that are easy to focus on and easy to check off before moving on to the next one.
3. Long to-do lists can be discouraging
My normal week to-do lists can get pretty long, so you can only imagine what they would look like after a week out of the office. The key is not to overwhelm yourself. I know that I would feel pretty unmotivated if I can back from a vacation and had a 3 page to-do list waiting for me. Try and take your first days back at work in sections. For instance, your first day back should be set aside for answering or sorting through emails and doing your most important tasks. The second day could be used for secondary tasks, and the third day for meetings (while still doing your usual daily tasks). This way, by the end of the week, you should be all caught up and you didn’t rip your hair out once!
4. Get back into all of your routines
Of course, a great way to get back into work mode is getting back into your work routine. This will definitely help you feel like you’re really back at work, not just back from your vacation. But you also want to get back into all of your usual routines. Whether it’s going to the gym at your usual time, meeting co-workers for Happy Hour on a certain day, or having a certain meal with your family once a week, getting back on schedule in all aspects of your life will make it easier to ease back into work.
5. Mentally extend your vacation
This might seem counter-productive, but it actually helps! Share your vacation photos with your co-workers and share some stories around the coffee machine. Even if you have a million things to do, remembering all of the fun you had on your vacation will remind you why you work hard everyday. You can even have a vacation photo as your desktop background or keep a souvenir on your desk to help you out if you’re feeling stressed about catching up.