Even if you’re raring to go, your first few days back on the job after a break might leave you feeling unsettled. This phenomenon occurs even after a pleasant holiday, so returning after a pandemic presents additional challenges. Your emotions may still feel like grated cheese from all the uncertainty, and stress can cloud your judgment as you struggle to readapt to previous behavioral patterns.
How can you get your go-to-work mojo back? The best way is to cleave to positive habits like you’re drowning, and they’re an innertube. Here are nine tips to help you on your journey.
1. Use Your Planner
If you want to achieve any goal, you need a plan to get there. Sit down with your planner on Sunday evening and write down everything you hope to accomplish in the coming week.
“But,” you protest, “I already know what I have to do in the typical workday.” Fair enough, but do you know how to do so in a way that maximizes your productivity? Putting your necessary tasks on paper helps you to define your why and give purpose to your activities.
2. Clean and Organize Your Space
Does your desk resemble a mad scientist’s laboratory with papers scattered hither and yon? You need to straighten it up not only for productivity’s sake but also to protect your health. A cluttered workstation won’t see the hands of evening cleaning crews, which means any germs surfaces picked up during the day remain there waiting to infect you.
Take additional measures to keep your work area clean and invest in a stash of disinfecting wipes to use after meeting with clients and colleagues. Be a good neighbor, too. While it’s understandable that you are anxious to return, health experts always recommend that anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms stay home for 24 hours to reduce risk.
3. Set Priorities
If you lived on the federal stimulus check and unemployment for the past few months, you might have fallen into harmful habits like becoming distracted by the least external stimuli. If you doggedly watched your cellphone for alerts, you may struggle to break such practices now that they hinder your productivity.
The best way to get yourself back on track is to establish a priorities list to manage your most vital tasks first. Consistently putting less-important chores, like checking email, further down on your to-do list will make a tremendous difference in your career trajectory. Your boss will know they can count on you to handle their most critical needs without prodding.
4. Clear Your Social Calendar
Did you lose your last position and recently landed employment? Starting a new job entails a considerable amount of stress — and after-hours time-investment. You have to study your industry and your competition to find out how to gain an edge and impress your team.
Unfortunately, this demand means you need to cut back on your social engagements until you get back in the game. Consider all the advantages instead of bemoaning skipping lunch with friends. You’ll save money, and you’ll ease stress because you won’t be trying to master a new software program before rushing off to date night.
5. Reconnect with Your Colleagues and Supervisor
If you recently came off furlough, you might feel out of the loop, especially if some of your team continued business as usual. Take time to reconnect with your colleagues and supervisor — you’ll likely welcome the return of social niceties. Those with new positions should reach out to former employers for references if you haven’t already. That way, if your new job goes south, you have your bases covered with people who will attest to your work ethic.
6. Get Your Questions Answered
How will the slowdown impact the upcoming vacation time you planned to take? Is your organization poised to make further cutbacks, or is it on a recovery trajectory with increasing revenue? If you harbor lingering concerns about your position that hinder your productivity, set up a private meeting with your boss to get your questions answered and set your mind at ease.
7. Prep Healthy Meals
You no longer have the time to play Rachel Ray at lunchtime, but continued healthy eating will keep your productivity levels high. Instead, learn to prep nutritious grab-and-go freezer meals so you don’t resort to fast food or a bag of chips from the office vending machine.
8. Learn Office-Friendly Exercises
Maybe you used short bursts of exercise to stay sane during the shutdown. If so, you probably noticed how much extra energy you had when you took the time to get your blood flowing regularly. Download an app designed to remind you to get up and move throughout your day, and practice desk-friendly exercises like seated cat-cows and neck and shoulder rolls.
9. Get Adequate Rest
Your regular bedtime may have flown out the window during your furlough. Re-establish the habit of setting your alarm and turning in at a reasonable hour. Inadequate sleep hinders your productivity and makes you more accident-prone. You don’t want to ruin your morning cuppa by accidentally adding orange juice instead of cream.
Get Back in the Groove of Going to Work
Getting back in the work groove after a break can prove challenging. With a few thoughtful lifestyle changes, you can rise to the occasion.
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