9 Tips for Making Getting Back to Work As Smooth As Possible

Getting back to work can be a real pain.

Whether your office is just opening back post-COVID or you’ve just arrived back from the holidays, getting back in the groove takes a minute. But, it’s gotta be done… so let’s see if we can make it better for you.

From setting up some personal highs to organizing your workspace and tasks, heading back to the office doesn’t need to be a disaster. We can make it (a little bit) fun!

Tips for getting back to work at the office

Cover image for "9 Tips for Making Getting Back to Work As Smooth As Possible" two women sitting at a meeting table

1. Wear something new

Getting back to work is tough for a lot of us, which is why you want to get started with making your week as good as possible right from the beginning. So, why not start with strutting your stuff in a new piece of clothing?

A new wardrobe piece is a great way to put you in the right mindset for rock it in the office. Strut your stuff in a new piece because, why not? Sometimes wearing a new jacket, fancy pair of shoes or your new shade of lipstick can put enough pep into your step to get you through the week.

All real adults have to work — so allow yourself some fun dressing up while getting through another work week. Slip on those Cinderella slippers and get your work grove on.

2. Set up an out-of-office (OOO) email

Yes OOO messages are for when you’re gone on vacation, but they can also make coming back considerably easier.

Setting one up as soon as you get back in the office can help set expectations for you, your team, and your clients. Ideally, you want to let them know that you’re back but will be working to organize your desk and/or projects and they can expect a response in X-days (whatever is feasible for you).

This way people aren’t emailing you urgent or repeated requests when you’re in the middle of getting things done, and they know when to expect a response from you. You’re back in the office, but that doesn’t mean you can handle everything on the first day.

3. Set a personal high for the day

Coming back can be a bit of a bummer, and one way you can inject a little relief into your day is by setting a personal high. This doesn’t have to be something major, it could be something as small as getting through a day of emails or creating your to-do list for the month.

You want something to look forward to that can help your day feel less daunting, and something you know you’ll be able to accomplish. That way you’ll start your time off on the right foot, and feel good about completing it.

4. Plan a happy hour with your besties

Nothing makes a workweek more enjoyable than having a Monday evening get-together to look forward to. It’ll make it easier to get through the day, and you can catch up with your friends and get to know what they’ve been up to.

This doesn’t have to be a big, expensive event. You can plan for a cheap happy hour that’s a few blocks away. Set yourself a 2-hour window so you can enjoy your time but not go overboard. Having your support team around to reminisce and vent somehow makes your days and weeks not so bad!

5. Manage your workload

You don’t have to get it all done on your first day back. Honestly, it’s unlikely you will so putting that expectation on yourself is just asking for trouble. Don’t throw your entire week off by packing your to-do list with stuff you know you can’t get done.

Start by looking at your workload and seeing what can realistically be accomplished in the next day or two. This will help you focus on what’s important, and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed.

To get back in the groove, you’ll want to start with something small and manageable. This could be getting through your email, setting up your desk, or creating a to-do list for the week. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you know you can accomplish without too much stress.

6 . Change up your desk

Rearrange it, clean it or add some new trinkets to your work area and give your space a small refresh. Your desk is your home away from home at work so-to-speak and it’s important that you have a little fun with it.

Whether it’s a new picture frame, a plant, or a different way of organizing your pens and paper clips — update your desk so that it feels like new. This can be a great mood booster when getting back to work.

If you have access to a window, maybe you stop on your lunch break and get yourself that plant you’ve been eyeing up, or add a fun new tape dispenser. Add in items that remind you of your fun personality and freedom!

7. Set some goals

I love taking the time to plan a little in advance so I have a chance to get excited about what’s going to happen. You can do this on a small or large scale, but setting some goals for yourself will help you stay motivated and on track.

Having something to look forward to helps to ease the transition back into the workweek. Maybe you plan to take a long lunch on Wednesday to meet up with a friend, or maybe you set a goal to finish all your projects by the end of the week.

Whether it’s booking that work trip you need to take to Toronto, or adding a new client to your portfolio — set a goal for the next month or two and make a plan to achieve it.

8 Do one thing at a time

Multitasking works for basically no one, especially those of us that are convinced it works for them (guilty). If you’re getting back into the groove — especially if you were gone for a longer while — you don’t want to make things too complex for yourself.

Start with one task and complete it before moving on to the next. This will help you stay focused, and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by your workload.

Plus, you’re more likely to be more productive when you’re focusing on one thing at a time. So take it slow, and focus on quality over quantity, and make it through the day.

9. Take breaks

Sometimes when we get back to work we feel guilty about being gone in the first place, and we go at it a little too hard. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day and forget to actually take a break. But you can only realistically work for so long before you become unproductive.

Whether you go for a walk, head downstairs to grab a coffee, head over to your office neighbor’s office, or just take a few minutes to step away from your desk — make sure you’re giving yourself a break.

Breaks allow us to clear our heads, reset and refresh, and come back to tackle whatever comes your way. You need breaks, don’t forget about them!

10. Check in with your supervisor

On the more practical sense, if you’ve been out for a while you’ll want to make sure you touch base with your boss or supervisor. Give them a heads up about what you’re up to and how you’re feeling, and check in to see if they need anything from you.

This is also a great opportunity to get clarification on any projects you may have been working on before you left, or new projects that have come up in your absence. Supervisors appreciate when we’re proactive and take initiative, so this is a great way to show that you’re still on the ball even after some time away.

Honestly, this might be a great thing to get out of the way at the beginning of your day. Depending on what they say, it might set the entire tone for your upcoming week!

11. Treat yourself

Getting through an entire workweek is something to write home about. If you’ve managed to stick to your new routine, and complete all your tasks — give yourself a high-five and treat yo’self. You don’t need to go overboard, but do something that makes you happy.

One of my favorite workplace “treat yourself” opportunities is buying lunch at the end of the week. You don’t have to go all-out with the budget on this one, but take the time to grab something to eat at the food court or order something from your favorite place is a great way to a pick-me-up.

Trust us, you deserve it. AND doing it on a Friday helps you have something to look forward to during the week – even if it is something small.

Ready to get back to work?

I’m willing to be you’re not actually ready to get back to work… but you probably have to. Honestly, it can be a real bummer to get back to the grind after taking some time off. But hopefully, with these tips in mind, you can make the transition a little bit smoother.

There’s no magic solution to getting back into the workforce, but by following these steps you’re setting yourself up for success. Getting back to work can be tough, but by following these tips, you can make the transition a little bit easier. Just remember to take it slow, and focus on one thing at a time. And most importantly, don’t forget to give yourself a break!

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