How to return to work after the holidays?

Holiday season is in full swing and many of us take long awaited 2 weeks off. Unfortunately at some point it’s time to come back to work. This means you need to go through a backlog of emails, catch up on latest events, see whether priorities have changed and what do you need to focus on.

What’s first?

So your are back on Monday morning feeling rested and rejuvenated with energy levels sky high. Now the question is what do you do? Where do you start?

For many the default way of spending their first day at work is to go through the emails and see what has happened. Depending on your environment you can have between 500 to 2000 or more emails in your inbox. If you get yourself in to the mode of checking email, you will drown in old communication which will deplete your energy and concentration. Don’t do that.

With your energy at peak level, it’s a great time to take a stock of where you are decide where you want to go which projects to move forward.

What are the steps?

At the very, very high level the best ways to start your work after holidays is to check were you are, see what remains outstanding and define a plan of action for the rest of the week. Lets look at this in bet more detail:

1. Speak to your colleagues and manager to get an idea where things are. – your colleagues and managers will be the best source of information about recent events so don’t waste your time on looking at your email first. Most likely none of the messages from two weeks ago are that time sensitive anyway.

2. Check the follow up list which you left for your co-workers. – before you left, you most likely left a big or small list of things you would like your colleagues to look after. Since these would be important items check where they are with them, have all of them been completed? If any items remain open include them in the next stage of the review.

3. Check for any reminders that may have popped up when you were away. – ideally you’ve dealt with those by taking care of them in advance or asking your colleagues for help. If however there were few things left asses their importance and add them your next action list.

4. Check your waiting for list for to see with whom you need to follow up. – review the items you’ve been waiting for, have people responded to you during your absence. Follow up on the open items or add to your action list.

5. Check your project list and begin deciding what you want to do next. – Once you’ve re-oriented yourself in the workplace it;s time to look at things bit more strategically. Review your projects and see where they are. Decide which should remain on the list and which should be postponed or even scrapped completely. Use this list to set a direction for next few weeks.

6. Check your next action lists – remove items that are no longer relevant or to add new points following your review of projects and waiting for items.

Now, that you’re up to date with your projects, waiting for’s and next actions, you can direct energy and focus toward making progress rather than spending it on dealing with email.

This is how I would see coming back to work. My holidays are due in couple of weeks time and I’m hoping to test these ideas when I’m back.

In the mean time, I wonder what are your strategies? What do you on the first day after holidays?t

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