8 Sep 2020
It’s been a strange old year. While the world has been dealing with the effects of the pandemic, the majority of us have been trying to keep to ‘business as usual’, albeit at home and at the same time as helping the kids with their schooling. Thankfully, since lockdown eased, it has been possible to get back into the office, and small business owners have been very grateful to be able to utilise serviced office spaces where they can work uninterrupted and safety. However, the uncertainties, social distancing and worries about the pandemic mean that never have so many people needed a nice holiday so much!
Whether you took the risk of going abroad or stayed in the UK, having a week or a fortnight off work brings the same challenges that have always faced returning holidaymakers – getting back into the routine after a holiday.
People who’ve been furloughed through lockdown will also face the same challenges, though they may well feel it more intensely the longer they’ve been away from the office environment. Whatever the reasons for having taken a break from work, here are our six top tips on how you can successfully get back into a productive routine.
Sleep routines typically get dropped when we’re not at work. With a run of late nights and late mornings, plus the luxury of being able to have afternoon naps if you want them, it’s going to be a real struggle when the alarm goes off. So anything you can do to get a good night’s sleep is going to help enormously. Make sure you relax before bedtime by taking a bath or shower, listening to calming music or reading a book rather than watching television. But the biggest difference you can make is to steer clear of your electronics an hour before your bedtime – close the laptop and put the iPad and your phone away, and resist the temptation to look at them. Otherwise, not only will what you‘re reading stimulate your beautifully relaxed mind, the blue light from the device will also fool your brain into thinking it’s daytime, which will suppress the production of melatonin in your body – the chemical that helps you to sleep.
You’ve probably not been eating particularly healthily in your time off, but eating well isn’t just good for your waistline, it’s also good for your brain. There is more and more scientific evidence pointing towards the brain health benefits of a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, fruit and fish. A healthy diet also has the advantage of protecting against dementia later in life. So you owe it to yourself as well as your business to ditch the junk food and eat sensibly.
In your first few days back at work, you’re more likely to be feeling tired, so get as much fresh air as you can. Make sure you get outside for a walk in your break, and if you’ve got a park nearby, so much the better.
You’ll probably have a lot of emails to catch up with and issues that need sorting out, but don’t just dive into the nearest task in an effort to solve everything at once. Take time to prioritise your To Do list and let people know when they can expect you to get back to them – that way you’ll be managing their expectations in advance, and you’ll waste less time fielding calls and emails from people chasing things up.
Try to keep your first couple of days free of meetings to give you more time to catch up with your workload and to refresh your knowledge of your clients. Being fully briefed will make your meeting a lot more productive than, say, scheduling it at 9am on your first day back and having to wing it because you’ve forgotten a lot of the detail!
Going back to work isn’t just about getting stuck in, you’ll want to chat with colleagues to find out what’s been going on in your absence, and they’ll be interested in what you did during your break. So factor some time in to do just that. Arrange to have lunch with them, which will not only give you a refreshing break, enabling you to be more productive in the afternoon, it’ll also allow you to chat guilt-free as you ease yourself back into your routine.
Everyone returns to the office with new goals in mind, motivated and full of good intentions to carry them out. But as soon as you’re back at your desk, it’s all too easy to become bogged down with doing things the way you’ve always done them. So make it a priority to set your goals in advance, and schedule them into your calendar to make sure you do them.