I'm back at work today after 11 days off and I always find this the toughest few days of the year. As I come away from time with the family and look on to time with my work colleagues it always takes a little time for my body and my mood to settle into a normal routine. And I think that "normal" changes every time I go back after a period of time off.
So, how do you make that transition easier?
How do you get back into the swing if things as quickly as possible, without too much turmoil?
There are a few ways of helping this, and a few things to avoid.
I think that a major change in your sleep patterns when you are not at work will bring about a more painful transition when you go back to work. For example, I usually start the day's work at 7:30am and I get up around 5:50am to get ready to work. I try not to get up any later than 6:30am during my time off, and the transition back to 5:50am starts isn't a difficult one. If I laid in bed until 8am or later, then I'm sure I would have much more trouble in getting up and getting motivated to work today.
Doing a job you want to do
This is a massive help, and will probably out-drive any other motives I list here. If you are doing a job that you enjoy, then you've probably most of the way there. It will make an instant impact on the fact that you will have that ready motivation to get up and go after a break. I have a job the I genuinely enjoy and the fact that I have missed a week fills me with a little excitement and I want to get back and see what's going on. This leads me to the next thing, which I think also helps-
Taking a complete break
I believe that not having anything to do with work facilitates a better transition back into work. It may sound strange, but a large part if your time off is being completely away from work and all the distractions and stresses it brings. I go to the extent of not going to the same town, and avoiding the same route on my travels. I think that all of these things help to rest and recuperate and provide you with the refreshing experience that time away from work should bring. The fact that you go back to work cold can be a little worrying but the fact that you have recharged your batteries offsets this. When you're ready to work and ready to get stuck into it, the work moves along quickly and you can easily catch up with colleagues over the course of the first few days.
As well as keeping a similar sleeping pattern during your time off, it makes sense to keep similar lifestyle patterns - eat at the same time, drink the same amount, at a similar time, exercise at the same time, etc. Having a similar life pattern each day helps the body and mind to operate at it's fullest. It also helps to promote a consistent mood and aids recovery from exercise and illness. All of this will help you to get back into the swing of things as you return to work, as it keeps the culture shock element of your return to a minimum.
Try these tips to help you return - it's helping me today!