Julie Tucker
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Annual leave: How to prepare to go back to work

Everyone needs a holiday to rest and recharge but you may find your motivation in the workplace is sadly lacking when returning from annual leave.

Getting back into a routine at the office can be challenging, especially if you’ve been away for a couple of weeks. You may find you have lots of messages and tasks to sift through.

If you’re not prepared, the relaxed feeling you enjoyed while on holiday will soon be replaced by anxiety and stress about all the tasks that require your attention.

Preparing to go back to work

Surveys have found 42% of workers suffer feelings of stress and anxiety when they go back to work after a holiday. Research also reveals 62% of Brits failed to take all their annual leave in 2022 – often because they felt “pressurised” due to the workload.

Of those who did take a break, 25% said they still worried about work while they were away. Some admitted that worrying about what they would find when they got back had spoiled their holiday to a degree. This alludes to a bigger problem that affects massive numbers of people: burnout is something 88% of workers have suffered over the past two years.

Looking at the statistics, taking a holiday is far more these days than just downing tools and jetting off to sunnier climes. Preparing to go back to work is an important part of the cycle.

Start with “me time”

The day you’re due to go back to work, take some “me time” in the morning before you set off. Get up a little earlier, so you have time to sit down and compose yourself over a healthy breakfast.

Check your work emails before you leave, so it isn’t all thrust upon you the moment you arrive at the office.

Starting earlier is the best way to catch up quicker and feel more ready to tackle the new day ahead. Never start the day by running late, or you’ll feel worse when you arrive at the office.

Hold a debriefing meeting

The first thing you should do is meet with your team members to debrief. A meeting is invaluable to help you get into the swing of things again. Your colleagues can let you know about things that have happened in your absence.

You can check whether the priorities have change for any projects, as some may have been completed or become less of a priority since you went on holiday. A debriefing meeting will give you a much clearer view of the way forward.

Prioritising tasks at work

Prioritising tasks is an important part of post-holiday planning. Understanding how to prioritise tasks effectively is arguably the most crucial part of getting off to a flying start, especially if you’ve been on annual leave for two weeks.

The volume of work you’re likely to find in the queue can feel insurmountable. However, not everything requires your immediate attention. It’s possible some emails are of a low priority, or are for information only, without the need for a response.

If you skim through them and file the low priority ones in the appropriate folder, they won’t change anything about your business. Make a distinction between priority, urgent and non-urgent. Set aside the time to deal with the priority and urgent, leaving the remainder on the backburner ‘til you have more time.

How can you catch up?

Prioritising at the start of the day will help you to catch up by setting new objectives. In fact, you should think of the whole first day back as a day to catch up: take the time to get organised for the week ahead.

Tackle tasks in batches such as setting aside an hour to check through emails, then a couple of hours for meetings, followed by another set period to catch up with colleagues who require your attention.

Focus on one thing at a time, rather than skimming from task to task. This will ensure you feel satisfied that you’ve completed your pre-set objectives, rather than hopping from one task to another and achieving very little.

Does coworking help with post-holiday blues?

If you’re based in a coworking space, it can actually help you to dispel the post-holiday blues.

Working in a traditional office, you may feel tempted to hide away at your desk, staring at your monitor and wishing you were back on the beach. However, now isn’t the time to vegetate!

Working in the collaborative environment of a coworking space is more likely to sweep you up in the general buzz. Some experts suggest hosting a “coffee chat” with fellow coworkers, using open-ended questions to encourage conversation.

Plan a lunch date or post-work drinks with colleagues so you’re lulled more gently into the work routine again. If you rent coworking space in London, you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to places to go. With around 20,000 restaurants and more than 3,500 pubs in the capital, coworking in London has its perks when it comes to banishing the post-holiday blues.

With a greater sense of community, giving you the opportunity to interact with like-minded people,

the primary benefit of a coworking space is the flexibility it offers, so if your first day back in the office has been gruelling, at least you have the option of finishing a little earlier and regrouping the next day.

If you can achieve the right mindset, having a couple of weeks off can give you a fresh perspective on your career, and you can use that to your advantage.



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