9 Ways to Get Back Into Work Mode After a Holiday
The prospect of going back to work after a chocolate-and-rum-drenched vacation is a tough thing to face. Nothing is worse than having a gravy hangover while dealing with an inbox full of emails, and seriously, who is sending so many goddamned emails over Christmas?
Well, aside from them, obviously.
But fret not! As a master of keeping my job after all sorts of absences, explained or otherwise, I've developed several tricks for just this situation. Here then, for your job-keeping pleasure, is a system of battle-tested tips you can use to get back into "work mode" after a long vacation.
Get Started Early
This might sound insane, the kind of suggestion that causes you to throw a thing of coffee completely through your monitor.
"STOP TALKING CRAZY."
But hear me out. Well, first clean up your monitor, then hear me out. When you arrive to work early, there's usually no one else around, because arriving for work early is monitor-wrecking insane. But that means you can get stuff done without your colleagues giving you more work to do. Half the task of cleaning off your desk is moving crap on to someone else's desk, and if you can get all that done before people start shoveling it back to you, you can avoid that frustrating sensation of trying to clear a big pile of work while that pile is still growing.
"Gordon, could you not mutter threats when I give you work?"
So go ahead and roll into the office a couple hours early. It might hurt up front, but you will benefit in the long run. More importantly, you'll be able to make a huge ass of yourself lording it over everyone all day, which is, for me at least, perpetually one of my New Year's Resolutions.
The reason coming back to work after a holiday is so depressing is because your brain is suffering under the weight of the knowledge that everything that is fun and good is behind you, and everything that is drudgery and whippings lies ahead.
Your office may work differently than mine.
The simplest way to break out of this is to find something in the future that's fun, something you can look forward too. This could be another vacation, but as that's probably still months away, why not pick something simpler, like the mini-vacation we get every day when we go home. What fun activity do you have planned for tonight? Visualize that, and watch it give you the energy you need to power through the day.
This. This makes it all worth it.
Remember Your Password
OK, so you made it into work early and spent a good half hour or so visualizing leaving work. Now you're ready to start actual work. Only to be stopped cold by a password prompt. It turns out that the part of your brain responsible for remembering passwords was murdered by liqueur-filled chocolates about two weeks ago. You can try to tackle this by thinking about it really hard. Like, it ended with a 7, didn't it?
It better. Passwords that end in numbers less than seven are less secure.
But that probably won't work so good. You might not even really consciously know your password, it being sort of this muscle-memory thing you do when you sit in front of a keyboard. Just stop thinking about it and start typing.
Ahh! Of course! Y-O-U-P-O-R-N ... no, wait, that's something else.
It was password7, wasn't it? No. OK. swordfish7. No. passfish7. Wait, we're getting warmer. passfish8, right?
And now you're locked out. Well, that's OK. IT can reset it for you. When they get to the office in an hour. Still, you can hardly be blamed if someone else's sloth is slowing you down. You're the hero of this story, the diligent worker being slowed down by parasites.
Dammit, it was parasite7, wasn't it?
You've Earned a Break
This is as good a time as any to take a breather and catch up with your co-workers as they start trickling in. After a holiday there's always a lot of chit-chat about what people did, and what they ate, and what airlines they're no longer welcome on. These conversations can keep a bit of that holiday cheer rolling, and that actually boosts morale a bit. By participating in it, you are legally working!
If you don't believe me, check out this clip art I just found.
More importantly, if you get this chatter out of the way early, it won't distract you from getting work done later. "How was your vacation?" you can say. "Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh," you can respond at appropriate times. "I fought a lion," you can reply when it's your turn to speak. You know, just basic conversation stuff.
"It was ferocious," you can add.
Then, when everyone's stopped talking to you, you'll be able to get back to work without distraction.
Do the Easy Stuff First
The chatter's done, your password is reset, and it's time to do actual work, because it's now like 11 a.m. Time to buckle up, then buckle down.
Not literally. That actually won't help your productivity at all.
To start, I'd recommend knocking off the easy stuff first. This will give you a nice sense of momentum that can carry you into the harder tasks. First, go through your inbox and read all the emails that require no action on your part. You know the ones. Corporate newsletters, joke threads, that kind of thing. Nice, right? Avoid anything from your boss, or a client, or anyone that knows your actual name and what you do. If the subject line of the email implies it might contain work, just set that aside for now.
Sadly and somewhat ironically, this includes anything marked "Urgent."
So, what'd that do? Cleared like half the emails out of your inbox, didn't it? Nice! And you did that in like 10 minutes. At this pace, you'll be done with all your work by 11:20. That's almost insultingly efficient, and you now run a serious risk of making your co-workers look bad. In the interest of promoting a harmonious work environment, it's time to throttle back a bit. You know, I bet a ton of websites have put up great content for you to check out?
For example, consider navigating to Cracked.com, which is perpetually dripping
with the hot-ass content that teens go crazy for.
Change Your Sitting Position
Now it's time to seriously get some stuff done, because everyone's been watching you chuckle at your computer in a way not normally associated with the act of performing grueling work, and also because that inbox has been filling back up pretty quickly.
A lot of these new emails seem to have exclamation marks now.
It's no longer time for jacking around. It's time to make a drastic change to your posture. More than just a way to preserve your spine and scare away predators, your posture can send subtle psychological signals to your brain that something is different. You relax when your feet are up and are more alert when you're standing, so let's use that to our advantage and get ourselves in an assertive, "not jacking around anymore" posture. Place your feet flat on the floor and lean forward slightly. Type something, doesn't matter what, as hard and as fast as possible. Feels good, right? Like you're accomplishing something vital.
More importantly, it sounds like you're accomplishing something vital.
Now that you're really starting to feel it, that urge to work coursing through your veins, it's time to ... oh, look at that, lunchtime.
Put the Hard Stuff Into a List
OK, it's now like 1:30, because it turns out that lunchtime also had some pretty good content.
Six pieces of content, in fact.
So, carefully, carefully, open one of your hard emails and see what these people are asking you to do. Oh shit, that's a lot. Don't panic, though. What you're going to do now is take this tough, sweaty task and write it on a piece of paper. That was easy! Do it with all the rest of your emails, painstakingly copying all of the things you have to do on to this list, taking breaks as necessary to check the web for new content.
"Oh man. This is the good shit right here."
Now you have no unread emails, and work is basically done for the day! If anyone comes bothering you, you now have something to show them. "Swamped after the holidays, chief!" you can say while aggressively waving your list in his face.
"This paper says you can't get mad!"
3 to 4 p.m.
No one works between 3 and 4 p.m.
"Goddamn this is interesting and insightful content. All the basic randos on my websites will yolo this bae fleek swag."
Visualize Leaving (While Leaving)
Announce loudly, like, bang some spoons together first, that you got here early and are heading out for the day. "Tough getting out from all this holiday backlog," you can add while waving your to-do list around. "Might get some of this done on the train."
Don't do any work on the train.
Check that content, man. Always check that content.
Do you see how easy that was? A whole day gone by, you lunging into work mode and getting tons done without feeling depressed at all. Sure, you now technically have more work to do than you started with and everyone is angry at you.
"Who's been a very naughty accounts coordinator?"
But by the time they get angry enough to bring out the big whip, you'll hopefully have made it to, like, Easter or something. Everyone will go on vacation for a few days, and when you get back the cycle can begin again.
Only now with awesome spring-themed bae fleek swag to yolo.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and got in early today, chief. His first novel, Severance, is incredible and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.
For more from Bucholz, check out 4 Ways to Fight Back Against Stupid Office Pranks and Greatest Customer Feedback Ever Sent to McDonald's.
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