Chicago — Transitioning back to work after taking some time off isn’t easy. You may have just come from a fun vacation, celebrated the birth of a new child or recovered from being sick - experiences that temporarily put work on the bottom of your priority list and rightly so. If you took a week or more off, the idea of heading back to the office can make you anxious when considering all that you’ve missed.
Here’s some tips for making your transition smoother.
Talk to your boss/team
Schedule a meeting with the leader of your team to help you get an idea of the projects you should be focused on. If you missed some key deadlines in your absence, discuss how you can go about catching up.
It might also be helpful to talk with some of your colleagues about what’s happened since you’ve been gone. They can give insight on how successful the team has been and whether it’s been reaching its goals. They can also help you understand how the team’s morale has fared during the course of deadlines and projects you might’ve missed. That information can inform the conversation with your boss, allowing you to inquire about ways you can play a role in either maintaining the team’s successes or making an impact on areas that need to be improved.
Check your emails
You might have an email avalanche awaiting you as you sign on to work for the first time since you took your leave. Don’t panic. Block off time slots to address your unread emails. You’ll only be able to focus on them if you set the time aside since you’ll be balancing other priorities. Intervals between 15 to 20 minutes should be enough. As you go through your emails, make sure to create a record of your tasks. That way, certain actionable items won't be lost as others pull on your attention.
Believe in yourself
Sometimes I feel like I don’t know how to write anymore after taking days or weeks from the craft. That doubt sometimes leads me to procrastinating to avoid the inevitable pain of struggling through an article. It also has other side effects, leaving me with a deflated confidence and a kind of existential sadness. Obviously these things don’t lend themselves to meeting deadlines and successfully easing back into your work after taking time off.
What sometimes helps me is reading the work that I’ve completed in the past and quite frankly, just trying again. There’s no easy answer to becoming the efficient employee you once were. But the only way you can get back to that place of confidence is with more experience. You just have to do the work and somehow believe that you’ll figure it out like you always did.