You wake up on Monday at 7:00am and a sudden feeling of dread comes over you. It’s the first day back to work after the holidays. You start dreading the first day because you just had a glorious extended break for Christmas and/or the New Year. Who would want to go back to the daily grind after a relaxing vacation? NO ONE!
This feeling only gets worse once you walk into the office and take a seat at your computer. Your inbox is over flowing with junk mail, important mail, personal mail and etc. Thousands and thousands (or what may feel like thousands) of emails sit in your inbox awaiting your attention. You look to the right of your computer and there sitting in a nice pile 10 feet high (or what may feel like 10 feet) is a pile of papers. You do not even remember creating this pile nor did you realize you had that much paperwork to sort through. Instead of tackling your tasks at hand you sit there….staring. Where do you even start? Will your to do list ever end? Why doesn’t anyone else seem as overwhelmed as you? What a way to start off your 2014 work year!
I am assuming the average American experiences this feeling almost every time they go to work in the new year. And if not, then I should probably see a doctor for this anxious condition I possess. The article, 28 Emotions You Feel When Returning to Work After the Holidays, by Brittany Lewis hits the emotion spot on. She may not have the most appropriate choice of words when listing the emotions; however I cringed while reading it because I knew the exact feeling she was trying to get across. Sean Coughlan’s, Back to Work: 10 Worst Things about Post Holiday Blues, also gives the reader a good idea of why going back to work is so hard.
There comes a time (hopefully, a quick few minutes after your dread hits) when you realize you need to start getting things done. I eventually had this realization, but it still took me a while to act on it, because with a never-ending to-do list, where do you begin? One of my most reliable coping mechanisms is research. I started to read articles on this common emotion and how to handle it on your first day back. I found some really excellent tips on how to manage your tasks and mitigate that overwhelming emotion. The article that I found the most helpful was, Dreading Work After the Holidays? 10 Tips to Deal with an Overwhelming To-Do List, by hrvoice.org.
The tip that really stuck out to me was “Identify the verbs that need attention”. I looked at my to-do list and noticed a lot of big verbs in there, such as, plan, implement, create, discuss and write-up. After reading this specific tip, I went and dissected each of these tasks and made them even smaller. Making your to-do list consist of smaller verbs that are easily doable gives you a lot of baby steps to your big goal. Instead of “planning” for something, I am going to first brainstorm a couple of ideas. Now my to-do list doesn’t appear impossible.
The one point that I do not fully agree with is “Always be prepared for ‘bonus time'”. When I find time to breathe and decompress, I am going to take it! I am not going to use that “bonus time” to go through my emails or tackle a tiny step on my to-do list. I believe that it is important to find the smallest bits of “me time” during the work day just so I feel rejuvenated when I do go into that meeting or start to tackle a big chunk of my to do list. Either way, make sure you recognize when that “bonus time” comes into play and make use of it one way or another!
No matter how you feel (i.e. dread) and how you handle your time (i.e. poorly) at work right after a long vacation, DON’T PANIC…This too shall pass.