Getting back into work mode is not always easy, and if you’ve been away for a few weeks it can feel excruciating to get back on track. Whether it’s an overabundance of holidays that have all decided to take place in the same month, or a long (or short vacation), or even just taking the weekend off to rest, it can be difficult to get back into a routine.
Now, as a writer I especially feel this every time I take time off. I still feel as though I’m catching up from the work I missed during the long month of holidays back in December, and with a bunch of new projects coming up, sometimes I do feel overwhelmed by all that I have to do.
As I sit down to play catch-up, send emails, work on new writing and projects, and get back into the thick of things, there’s definitely a feeling of resistance. Now, since I’m sure that this is not a feeling singularly felt by me, and I’ve been here before, I know exactly what I’m going to do to ensure I can get back on top of all of my work.
So here, right now, I’m going to share some of my tips for getting back in the swing of it all after an absence. Some of these may be more writing specific, but I’m confident that there’s something here for everyone. So here are four ways (+ 1 bonus) to get back into your groove after being away from your desk for way too long.
- Make A Well-Organized To-Do List: When you sit down at your desk after being away, the number of tasks in front of you might seem overwhelming. One way to counteract this feeling is to make a to-do list that’s organized in a few different categories. List each action item by priority level, and estimate the time it will take to accomplish said task. Then decide how you want to tackle items: it could be that it’s easier to start with small tasks and work up to tasks that require more of a time commitment. Alternatively, it might work well to start with the tasks that take the most time, completing smaller tasks afterward. Whatever your style is, make sure to get anything time-sensitive accomplished first.
- Make Sure To Take Breaks Throughout The Day: When you have a lot to get done, especially on your first day back, it may be tempting to try and work incessantly to catch up. This may prove to be a mistake and might actually put a damper on your productivity. Trying to get every single missed thing done all at once may prove impossible, and the act of doing so can be incredibly overwhelming, so pace yourself. Remember that work is done better if it’s done better, so allow yourself a few minutes to breath, and/or walk around, so that you can get higher quality work done without increasing your stress levels.
- Focus On Time Sensitive Work First: If you’re like me, time management is something I’ve been working on, because when I’m writing time does tend to get away from me quickly. Take a look at your above mentioned to-do list and see which things are the most time sensitive. Has your boss placed deadlines on certain pieces of work? Did you promise a client work by a certain date? Do you have self-imposed deadlines on certain action items? Make sure to get those things done as soon as possible, and ahead of schedule, so you don’t have to worry about being late on a task, especially when you are just getting back into the swing of things at work.
- This may be more specific to readers who have jobs with a focus in writing or content. My best advice is to have a writing routine that you maintain (to whatever extent possible) even on your time away from work. As someone who works in both of those fields, the best productivity I can ever offer, is to always maintain a routine when it comes to what you do. Interested in things outside your main area of focus? Then write about those topics, whatever is interesting to you. Doing this, having a time to write everyday, aside from your work, or in addition to you work, really allows for your writing to improve, and can improve productivity overall through the act of repetition. This can be really fun to, and it can allow you to expand on your ideas, remain focused, and gives you freedom to write about whatever you want. This ensures that even when you’re not at work, your skills don’t stagnate, so you won’t feel immediate writer’s block when you return to your desk.
- Make Sure That You Have a Regular Sleep Routine: When you’ve been away from your regular schedule, it’s so tempting to completely throw out your regular routine completely, and disregard any regular sleep habits. While you are away from work for whatever reason this might be out of your control to some extent. When you return to work though, try hard to get back into a routine in which you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. This is probably the best productivity tip, because without proper sleep hygiene it can be very difficult to focus on work, and can really impact your ability to process information. So once your back, make sure that you institute and maintain a proper sleep and wake up schedule as part of your daily routine, so that you can minimize your level of tiredness during the day.
So, hopefully these five tips, help you as much as they’ve helped me in getting back into my work flow. But remember, not to be harsh with yourself if you can’t immediately get back into your regular routine right away. There are more productivity tips that I’ve learned, and I’m hoping to do a series on productivity in the future, aimed at helping our readers to live more productive lives, so keep an eye out.
By Lianne Hikind