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Getting Back At It

Getting Back Into the Groove After Time Away

I hope you’ve been able to set aside time this season to celebrate gratitude with friends and family. There was hopefully plenty of food, and maybe a parade and some football, and hopefully, at least one day away from the office.

But that’s just the topic I want to offer up today...the discomfort that comes with short weeks. Because many of us have experienced a world in which shorter weeks just means fewer days to get the same amount of work done. Short weeks sometimes make for long weeks later. 

So, here are three quick tips for getting back into the groove after a day or two away from the office


1 - Block 30 minutes first thing in your day to prioritize the work ahead of you.

Here’s what that looks like:

Without being distracted by meetings, conversations, or even your daily reading, carve off a full 30 minutes before letting the hectic nature of the workweek get in full swing, and identify the most important three things you need to do today, this week, and this month. Review your planner; flip through your calendar; skim through your inbox; look at the sticky notes around you for the things you know you’d marked as important: these are all places where your top priorities may be captured. 

Sometimes that time away is a great reset, but sometimes it also drops stuff off our radars that if we don’t catch it, may get missed. Not everything is equally important, so prioritizing the most important things is the best way to make sure those get done. Try not to come up with more than three things if you can avoid it. If everything is high priority, then nothing is high priority.


Here’s what you can expect:

By taking a few moments to calmly consider what’s most important, you can make sure that the big stuff doesn’t slip through the cracks. You can use those priorities as a decision filter for the rest of your day and week, and you can keep the really important stuff top of mind, which is where it should be, without causing you extra stress.


2 - Block 30 minutes before the first day back ends to review the things that came in while you were gone

Here’s what that looks like:

Sometime after you’ve prioritized your day and after you’ve made some headway on the most important things, give yourself 30 minutes to read emails, listen to voicemails, and review the things that happened or came into your space while you were away. 

You may have glanced over headlines or skimmed subject lines while you were completing item 1 above, but now’s the time to read through the other stuff. Timebox yourself to just 30 minutes. 

With each item, touch it only once to read & toss, or act & file. If you don’t quite finish all the new stuff in that time frame, schedule another 30 minutes within the next 1-2 business days.


Here’s what you can expect:

Giving yourself permission to read nonessential stuff will keep you informed. Time-boxing will keep it from taking over your day. Reading through the stuff you know is important but not critical will give you a chance to read more closely than skimming (which you did in step 1 above) to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Taking the time to file, toss, or stow the item will keep it from cluttering up your space going forward. Taking the action will keep it from being pushed back until it doesn’t happen.


3 - Block 30 minutes to connect with people

Here’s what that looks like:

Find 30 minutes on your first day back to spend with the people around you. This could be one chat for 30 minutes with a key stakeholder on a project you’re leading, or a chat with a key person on your team. If that’s the case, then the 30 minute conversation includes some relationship-building (“how was your weekend”) as well as some deep-dive progress on an important topic. 

This could be two 15-minute chats with two of your team members. That would look a lot like the first one, only shorter and twice as many! You could also schedule a 30 minute touch-base with your whole team for a status check on an in-flight item. This could include a few minutes of just being people together (“favorite moments over the weekend, anyone?”) followed by status checks (what’s done, what’s in progress, what roadblocks do you need help with). 

If you’ve got a larger team or a larger set of stakeholders, maybe you schedule those 30 minutes to be walking around and intentionally greeting people in their own space to say hello and connect with them, make yourself available to them, praise them if you see them doing something cool, express appreciation for the value they get the idea. 


Here’s what you can expect:

I can’t think of any projects that “do themselves” or businesses that “run themselves” or work that “gets itself done.” Every workplace example I can think of (and certainly all the ones where these words are being read) involves humans - fellow Earth-persons who are more engaged, more committed, and more capable when we connect with each other and build relationships with one another. The relationship-building isn’t in addition to the work you do - it likely is the work you do. By making a little time to reconnect as humans, you’ll reap some or all of these benefits - 

  • be recharged or re-energized from positive interactions with others
  • learn more about those you work with and what matters to them
  • deepen relationships and the ability to lean on and count on others
  • inspire others to do the same

Okay, I know I’ve just blocked 90 minutes on your calendar, but I’m wildly confident that these simple steps will make the rest of your work days this week even better, and make it easier and faster and even a little more fun to deal with the extra work that can pile up when we’re away from the office! Chime in to social media and tell us what you tried!!


Topics: YP, Sinikka Waugh, Business Skills & Business Acumen

Sinikka Waugh

About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day. Are you ready? If you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!


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