With the holiday weekend behind us, summer is unofficially here. And as the world emerges from 15 months of a global pandemic, what a summer it will be.
As the school year finishes up and vacations become a normal part of reality again, our work lives may suffer. That’s particularly true after a long weekend when returning to work might feel like a slog and your email inbox is overflowing with important messages. Advance planning is key to preparing for time off, enjoy that time while it’s happening, and then hit the ground running when you return to work.
Returning to work after a much-needed break can feel overwhelming: too many emails and administrative tasks mixed into an already full to-do list. If possible, plan ahead for that crunch by blocking out time on your calendar simply to catch up. The upside here is that most of your colleagues are probably in the same boat, so don’t hesitate to set realistic expectations for what’s doable upon returning to the office (whether it’s virtual or physical). This strategy doubles as a useful way to give yourself breathing room on vacation so you don’t feel obligated to answer emails and get organized during time off.
If you do return from a break to a full day or week of meetings, spend a few minutes checking the details in advance: make sure invites are updated, platforms are correct, and login info is included for all participants. If you have the capability, test meeting links and settings, review attendee lists, and compile basic agendas so everyone is prepared to hit the ground running when they log in. Once the call starts, maintain a start-on-time (and stop-on-time) policy, encourage dialogue among all participants, and be sure to discuss follow-up tasks or desired outcomes before signing off. Completed in advance, these simple tasks can save you and your colleagues precious minutes and hours.
With a to-do list a mile long and a shorter week to get everything finished, it can be tempting to put off critical post-holiday work in favor of smaller, easy-to-achieve tasks. But breaking big, abstract projects into smaller, concrete chunks can make the work easier to complete—especially if you have time to review project briefs or recaps and think strategically about the work required to complete them. Keep specific to-do lists to 10 or fewer items to avoid feeling overwhelmed, and use any downtime or travel time at the end of a vacation to review existing task lists and reorder them to your liking.
If that overwhelming feeling does strike, the easiest thing to do is avoid work by catching up on the news or scrolling through social media. If you need to be productive, though, those apps can be distracting. Block out the noise by turning off automatic app notifications—and if you need to take a more heavy-handed approach, consider turning off access to those apps during predetermined time windows. Many web browsers and smartphones allow you to do that so you can focus on the task at hand without getting lost in a nonstop stream of pings and alerts. If you need help navigating system preferences or settings so you don’t turn off the notifications you need, a trusted IT provider can help.
According to neuroscience studies, a clean desk can lead to a clear mind and increased productivity. If you have time before clocking out for a long weekend, spend 15 minutes organizing your workspace so it’s nice and tidy upon your return. Or, if you’re feeling spent after a long morning answering emails upon your return to the office, set aside a longer refresh block by re-organizing your workspace. That can apply to your physical desk at home or in the office, your virtual computer desktop, your disorganized to-do list, or your email inbox. Many people put pressure on themselves by thinking of tidying up as procrastinating, but taking a break to clean your slate can actually motivate and inspire you.
Maybe you live in a place where fires or floods are a threat. Maybe you’re worried about ransomware or data breaches. Or maybe you just need help optimizing your day-to-day data storage as you pivot between a hybrid office-home schedule. No matter what, pay closer attention to your data backup situation. The peace of mind that comes from knowing your information is protected is priceless, empowering you to work more confidently.
If you or your employees are finding it harder to focus on time management or day-to-day operations, CMIT Solutions can help. From inbox management to calendar synchronization to IT optimization, our 200+ offices and 800+ technicians have helped thousands of businesses across North America boost productivity and enhance efficiency.
We protect your critical systems and secure your devices so that your business can stay up and running. We empower your employees to do their best work. We worry about IT so you don’t have to. For reliable IT service and world-class support, you can count on, contact CMIT Solutions today.