The hardest part of the holidays is always right afterward, when we have to get up early and drag ourselves back to our desks. Inexplicably, you might find yourself feeling even more stressed and less motivated than right before the holidays. Getting the energy together to tackle the day can feel like a problem that no amount of coffee can solve.
Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks that you can use to help you dive right in and grab the bull by the horns.
After some time away, it’s common to feel a little lost and not know where to start. Don’t just sit in front of your computer with a cup of coffee and hope that inspiration will strike. Instead, review what you were doing just before the holidays, and quickly scan through your emails. Write down a full list of what what you need to check on, who you need to talk to, and what you need to do.
Once that’s done, prioritise the list by urgency. With an organised list, you’ll have something to help you focus your attention, and keep you on track.
Talk to your co-workers
It can be hard to really put your nose to the grindstone right away. That’s not a big deal. Spending a bit of extra time by the coffee maker can actually be beneficial, because you need to take time to reconnect with your co-workers.
Social interaction builds company culture, and in a healthy company your co-workers can be a powerful motivating force. Not only will it give you the opportunity to coordinate your efforts, it’ll help you to feel like an important and accountable part of the team. The sense that other people that you like and respect are relying on you adds meaning to your work, and helps to take the edge off your stress level.
Turn off your phone
Fresh memories of sleeping in late, relaxing, and sitting on a beach might be nice, but they can also make it hard to focus. To help manage this, it’s a good idea to limit other distractions that you have control over. First and foremost, that means turning off your smartphone while you’re at work. If you need to keep it on for work purposes, just uninstall your social media applications for a few weeks.
Doing this will help to make your unproductive periods during the day shorter, and reduce external interruptions throughout the day.
Get a passion project
If you’re seriously demotivated about work, the problem could be larger than just the holidays. Your job, and your career, isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something you do. If you’re committed to building up some meaningful steam, you’ll need to take a measure of control of your job to pursue something that matters to you personally.
Your passion project doesn’t have to be grand and glamorous, and it doesn’t necessarily need to fit into your existing responsibilities. It just has to be relevant. Are you dissatisfied with existing procedures in your department? Offer to improve them! Do you want to see a healthier company culture? See if you can take on a formal role in making it happen! These kinds of responsibilities might put more work on your plate, but they’ll help you get out of bed in the morning with a spring in your step.
Punch out and go
If you’re having a hard time readjusting and becoming productive again, it can feel tempting to try to compensate for a lack of productivity by working late. This is not going to work, and it’ll only make you feel even more exhausted the next day.
It’s important to take the time to recharge and build a healthy work/life rhythm. It doesn’t matter if you had a comfortable balance before the holidays; even a few days off can make you feel disoriented and demotivated. To re-establish your equilibrium quickly, set a rigid schedule and stick to it religiously for at least a few weeks. That comfortable pattern will help you to compartmentalise so that you can more easily concentrate during work hours, and to relax at the end of the day.
Not only can these tips make it easier to get back into work mode after some time off, they can help to improve your level of engagement all year around. There is no good reason to drag your feet through the work day when just a few changes can make all the difference between a stressful boring grind, and a meaningful and exciting career.