Coming back to work/school after a long-weekend off can be incredibly challenging. If you feel tired, unmotivated, and wishing you could have one more day off, you’re not alone! But rather than dreading your return to work, you may as well make the best of it.
So where do you begin?
Obviously there are some things you can do before and during the weekend that make coming back easier (like setting up an out-of-office message, or checking your email), but we’re going to skip all that for now and focus on the actual return to work.
1. First things first: have a good breakfast.
If it’s too late for breakfast, and you’re already back at work or school, make sure you have some healthy snacks and a good energy-boosting lunch!
2. Drink up, buttercup!
Make sure that you’re drinking enough water. This is something you should be conscious of all the time, but it’s especially important if you’re trying to be productive at work. According to a 2014 study, mild dehydration—that is, water loss of less than 5 percent of our body weight—can suppress the increase in blood flow induced by, and necessary for, proper neural activity.
And if you’re feelin’ fancy, add some cucumbers in.
3. Check in with your team.
Whether it’s virtual or an in-person meeting, taking a minute to talk with your team to review what everyone’s focusing on can be really beneficial and help ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. The meeting also provides everyone with an opportunity to chance to catch up on how you spent your time off (yay for office bonding) and how everyone should prioritize the week ahead (yay for organized goals).
Keep the meeting short & sweet and recap with follow-up materials via email.
4. Make a list.
When it comes to being productive at work, lists are your friend. Make a list of the most important things you need to do this week. Remember, you don’t need to do it all today! From that list, choose the most essential tasks that you need to do today and schedule the less urgent tasks throughout the week. This delegation of tasks will help keep you organized, and hopefully give you some personal goals to work towards for the day.
Still not feeling ready to be productive? Do some small tasks.
If you know what your biggest tasks are but just aren’t feeling motivated to do them, put it aside (just for a bit), and take on a smaller (but still important) task. If after that you’re ready to take on a bigger challenge, good. If you’re still not feeling it, do another small task. Hopefully, checking off some of your to-dos will make you feel a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to take on those big and mighty to-dos.
5. Take a deep breath.
There are many different ways that you can breathe more deeply, but one popular approach called the 4-7-8 method is claimed to calm the mind and relax the muscles. Here’s how to do it.
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, feel your belly expanding.
- Hold that breath for a count of seven.
- Then blow out through your mouth for a slow count of eight. If you can, put your tongue behind your bottom teeth and making a whooshing sound as you exhale.
6. Use the Pomodoro Technique.
It’s an incredibly simple, effective, popular time management lifehack whereby you work in blocks of time that are typically 25 minutes long (called pomodoro sessions), followed by a 5-minute break. You are meant to repeat this pattern three times and then take a 15-30 minute break at the end of it.
I swear by this technique and use it when I really need to focus!
7. Organize and prioritize e-mails.
There are many different ways of dealing with email-buildup. http://lifehacker.com/5850125/top-10-tricks-for-dealing-with-email-overload
One thing that we recommend is using multiple inboxes that allow you to sort messages in a way that’s easier to go through. You can use labels such as “Needs Action” or “To-Do List” to help you visualize what emails need to be prioritized.
You can also label your messages according to what needs to be done, e.g. “reply immediately,” and what can wait until the next day/week. This organization may seem tedious but it will allow you to prioritize your time and deal with non-urgent emails later without letting anything slip through the cracks.
8. Track your time.
Use a website/desktop app such as Toggl to track your hours so you can be mindful of how much time you’re spending on projects. Using Toggl, you can even label your tasks and add custom project labels to keep yourself organized.
9. Start a “Waiting-For” list.
Remember when I said lists are your friend? I meant it. This time, I’m recommending a “waiting for list” which is, as the name clearly suggests, a list of everything that you’re waiting for. Keeping a waiting can help you focus (rather than thinking about everything you’re waiting on), reducing the chances that something may slip through the crack. And it’s also a great, stress-free way to keep organized and stay on top of your work.
10. Take a quick look at some baby animals.
According to a 2012 study called “The power of Kawaii” (yes, they actually called it that),“viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus“. Cute images also “induce careful behavioral tendencies in the users, which is beneficial in specific situations, such as driving and office work.”
To be clear: I am NOT suggesting that you spend hours doing this. But maybe if you’re doing the pomodoro technique and want to spend your 5-min break looking at some cute lil baby animals, I highly support that! In fact, here’s a link of 10 really cute baby animals. You’re welcome.
Hopefully these tips help you! If you enjoyed this article or know any effective productivity life-hacks, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below! Now, go get ’em!