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How to Get Back in the Groove at Work After the Holidays

By Maurie Backman - Jan 2, 2019 at 7:09AM

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It's time to resume a regular work schedule. But that doesn't mean you need to stress about it.

The holidays are a great opportunity to catch up with loved ones, unwind, and spend some much-needed time away from the office. But now that the holiday season is over, it's time to refocus on the job front and gear up for what could be weeks, if not months, of five-day workweeks without a built-in break. Here's how to get back into the groove after a lighter period of work.

1. Ease back in slowly

Maybe you don't have any vacation time coming up in the next few weeks, but that doesn't mean you have to go from a holiday schedule to working 12-hour days. Unless you have pressing deadlines to contend with early on in the year, give yourself a week or so to get back up to speed. Avoid overloading your schedule with meetings and projects, and set smaller goals to achieve during your first few days back in the office (like responding to outstanding emails and voicemails). If you're kind to yourself during that initial post-holiday period, you'll be less stressed on a whole.

Woman at desk holding her head as if stressed with laptop in front of her

Image source: Getty Images.

2. Take breaks

Going from shorter workdays and interspersed time off to a full-time schedule can be daunting. Even if you've previously been known to power through your workdays, in the coming weeks, pledge to incorporate plenty of breaks. Those could come in the form of stepping out for lunch, taking late-morning walks, or rewarding yourself with a quick breath of fresh air mid-afternoon. The key is to give yourself a chance to decompress as you ramp back up.

3. Get more organized

Coming back to work after a holiday break often means grappling with piles of untouched paperwork and dozens upon dozens of unread emails. To make the process easier on yourself, spend some time during your first day or two back getting yourself organized. First, physically organize your documents or materials so that they're easy to access and sort through. Next, find an easy-to-use online calendar (or a physical one, if that's what you prefer) and schedule your various tasks so that you're certain to have ample time for all that needs to get done.

4. Set clear priorities

Now that you're back to work full-time, projects and assignments that may have previously been put on hold are likely to come back into the spotlight. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, identify the various things you need to do within the next few weeks and order those items by priority level. Then, use the aforementioned calendar to give those tasks top billing.

5. Keep your social calendar light

Just because you took some time off for the holidays doesn't mean you ought to lock yourself in the office for the next month until you're all caught up. At the same time, there's a good chance the next few weeks will be hectic as you and your colleagues attempt to ramp back up, which means you might have no choice but to burn the midnight oil on occasion. As such, keeping your social schedule light will help you avoid the stress of having to juggle too many work and personal commitments. This isn't to say you can't plan on dinner with a friend here and there, but be sure to leave at least some nights and weekends free, just in case.

Returning to work after the holidays isn't easy. But if you follow these tips, you might make an otherwise hectic period just a bit less stressful and chaotic.

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