The return to work plan of action


The first day back in the office after a holiday is always a hard one.  Today I am fighting that battle, the one where my body is telling me I still need to have a mid-morning ice-cream and an afternoon nap.  That lunch should, of course, be accompanied by a nice chilled glass of wine.

Instead, I am drinking a cup of tea and looking out over the Surrey, rather than the Tuscan hills. At least the sun is shining, for now at least.

It’s a scenario no doubt being played out in offices across the country.  As workers return to their desk, tanned and relaxed desperately trying to remember their password, to tackle the overflowing inbox and remember what it is they actually do for a living.

While it may be tempting to spend the first hour searching for next year’s holiday, that’s not going to go down too well with everyone else in the office.  So how do you kick the blues to the curb and get back into the swing of things.  Everyone has their own way of doing things but this is my ‘Back to work’ routine.

  1. Out of office – this one is more something to do before you go. But if I am away for an extended period, ie more than a few days, I often add an extra day to my out of office.  This gives me time to clear any emails before people begin to chase me for a response.  In previous roles where I could receive in excess of 100 emails a day, it was necessary to have that extra time to go through the 1,000’s of emails I’d return to.
  2. Attack that inbox – there is no escaping it, at some point, you will have to go through all those emails. But, before I reply to a single message I do the following.
    1. Delete all sales messages. Ie those not linked to your day job, the offers from Amazon, the weekly round-ups from LinkedIn etc..  This will drastically reduce the number you have to wade through
    2. Sort by subject – not sender – this makes it easier to see the most recent email in the chain and quickly delete those that are now out-of-date. It also means you don’t waste time dealing with something that has already been solved.
    3. Categorise – I like to colour code things, I’m a bit sad like that. I give emails a quick read through and colour code each depending on whether they are urgent, important, just for info or to be deleted. It is then easier to see what needs to be dealt with first and what can be left until later
  3. Make a list – once you’ve worked out what’s urgent and what’s not. Make a list, whether that’s old school using a pen and paper or electronically. Make sure it’s documented so you don’t forget something while daydreaming about your trip.
  4. Lunch – don’t take a soggy sandwich or a limp salad for lunch on your first day back. Treat yourself, go to that café you like or the place that does the killer noodle dish. Give yourself something nice to help you get through the rest of the day.

Me, well I’ve cleared my inbox of junk, worked out those that need my attention and ticked the first thing off my to-do list (this blog).  So now it’s time to go and pretend I’m still in Italy and grab a pizza for lunch and maybe, just maybe, have a sneaky look and destinations for next year’s holiday!!

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