What is it about the holiday break that makes getting back to work so hard? On the calendar, it’s only a few days off. In terms of your motivation, however, it might as well be a month-long sabbatical — minus the benefits.
If you’re back at the office today, and struggling mightily to get back on track, it might help you to know that you’re not alone. We’re all dealing with the same problems.
Be kind to yourself, take things one step at a time and you’ll be your old, productive self in no time. (OK, at least by the end of the week.)
Problem #1: Your Overwhelming Inbox
How is it possible that you have 400 emails, when you were only out of the office for four days — and 80 percent of your colleagues and clients also had a long weekend off?
Chalk it up to the “magic” of email, the technology that seems to sap as much time as it saves. The good news is that the majority of that email is probably junk that you’ll look at once, and delete. The rest can be dealt with fairly quickly, with a few tricks.
First of all, most productivity experts agree that you should stop checking your email first thing in the morning. Start your day by gazing into the abyss of your inbox, and you’ll wind up spending the bulk of your working hours chasing other people’s priorities, instead of achieving your own goals.
Instead, pick a few times a day to answer emails, and then focus on filing and prioritizing. Delete the junk, then sort everything into folders, then answer the crucial emails first. Be ruthless. Email wants to eat your day. Don’t let it.
Problem #2: Your Mushy Brain
Do you feel a bit dumber after a short break from the office? Blame all that fun you crammed into your short break.
A lot of different factors can derail productivity on an average day: a bad night’s sleep, lack of exercise and/or fresh air, a diet full of sugary snacks and no vegetables. If you’re like most people, you probably just spent several days engaging in all of these vices.
Staying up later than usual while eating cookies and drinking champagne feels great while it’s happening. But now you’re back at your desk, dealing with the bleary-eyed aftermath.
Be kind to yourself. Move the important stuff when you can. When you can’t, try to give yourself a little extra time to double-check your work (or have a trusted colleague do the same). And eat something green today.
Problem #3: Your Complete Lack of Motivation
Your to-do list is breeding tasks like tribbles, and you know you have to catch up from the holiday … but you’d honestly rather spend the day watching baby animal videos on YouTube.
Use sports psychology to get your head back in the game. For example, performance consultant Jeffrey Hodges suggests replacing “negative motivation language” with positive talk, in order to stop yourself from putting off tough projects.
“Right now, think of six tasks that are on your agenda to do this week,” Hodges writes at Sportsmind. “They might be work tasks, an assignment due for some course you’re doing, home chores, or training for your sport – it doesn’t matter. As you think of each task, rather than say to yourself, ‘I have to do such-and-such’, think instead: ‘I want to get that report to my boss by Friday morning’…. I now use this process for everything I choose to do – including wanting to put in my tax return on time!”
Tell Us What You Think
How do you regain motivation after a break? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.