Get Back to Work: It’s Time to Shake Off the Holidays

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inboxIt’s very common to feel stressed and overwhelmed as the holidays end and we gear up to get back to work. We spend months shopping, planning and letting our excitement build for the holidays. Then we enjoy a too-quick celebration and some time off, and before we know it, it’s time to head back to work. Regardless how much time you took off, it usually doesn’t seem like enough, and it can be difficult to feel completely refreshed when vacation comes to an end.

But, it’s inevitable – the holiday season ends, and we have to get back to the daily grind. The good news is, you can control how painful that first day back at work is…and you can even make it (almost) enjoyable.

Get Psyched About Your Goals

You may have spent some time during the past few weeks closing out the year with a end-of-year review, and gearing up for the New Year by focusing on your goals. Look at everything you accomplished last year and revel in your successes as you start to dive into your next set of goals. You don’t have to plan a full-blown celebration, but even a few minutes of personal recognition can be motivating.

Start Chipping Away at Your List

I’m guessing you have a lengthy to-do list ready for your first day back, and you probably have a number of other things to take care of that may not have even made it to your list – things like checking email, returning calls, going through your mail. These things are important, but they can really distract you from the work items you need to be focusing on. Take some time at the end of your vacation before you are officially back to go through your messages and get a handle on your overflowing inbox.

Organize Your Priorities

It will be impossible to tackle everything on your first day back at work, so identify the most important items and push the rest off to Day 2. Make sure you have a plan for those high-priority items and gather everything you need to get them accomplished.

It’s a good idea to create an “on-deck” list of secondary priorities, too. Remember that it’s probably the first day back for your clients, too, so if you need input from others, you may not get an instant response. Having your on-deck list ready will let you substitute a new task for one that enters the waiting stage.

Plan a Day of Quiet

It’s tempting to want to cram some more fun and activities into the day before you go back to work, but this can make your first day back more stressful than it needs to be. Just like you did as a child getting ready for your first day back at school, plan a restful and calm day and try to get to bed early. Not only do you need to be physically ready to work, but a day of quiet can help you mentally prepare.

Get Up Early (just for one day)

Even if you feel completely prepared for your first day back, there is always the possibility of unforeseen problems catching you off-guard. Starting your day a little earlier than normal on your first day back can not only give you a jump on your to-do list when things are quiet, but it can also help you be flexible if an unexpected crisis does crop up. You don’t have to get up hours earlier; starting work just one hour earlier than normal can give you a sense of control that will help you make it through your day unscathed.

Are you ready to get back to work? What have you done to prepare?

Image credit: mulligand

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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