Change professionals returning to work

Return from holiday action plan

Happy new year!

Early January is the time when many people are returning to work after an extended holiday over the festive season.  Holidays are important as they allow you to rest, spend time with family / friends and generally recharge.

With your mind and body rested you are then all set for optimal performance upon your return to work…………or are you?

It is very sad that many people don’t feel rested and then dread returning to work as they feel tired and stressed about what they will face when they return to work.

Fortunately it is in your control how you feel about the return to work.  So if you want to return feeling positive, full of energy and ready for the challenge, here are some ideas that can help.


While we are all different and need different levels of sleep, we all need sleep.  It is quite normal that our sleeping habits change during a holiday period including variable (often later) bedtime and lie in’s in the morning.

While this is very nice, it is important to move yourself back into your normal routine at least a couple of days before the first day back at work.  Don’t wait until the night before your first day back at work to return to your normal routine.


It is worth checking a couple of days before your first day back that you have everything you need.  If you have been off for a week or two, can you remember where you left your security pass, rail ticket, etc.  You can avoid stress by ensuring that you know where all the items you need are.  Then if any are mislaid you have time to find them (or get new ones).

Same applies to work attire.  Have you got clean shirts, suit / dress collected from dry cleaners.

These may all seam minor but do you really want to risk undoing all that relaxation because you were not organised?

Shorter First Day

If possible, ease yourself back into work.  If you typically work extended hours, why not try to only do a normal length day on the first day back.  This will help adjust back to work and hopefully reduce the risk of the holiday becoming a distant memory by lunchtime.

Review Schedule

While you may want to start reviewing all the emails that have arrived in your Inbox, it is worth resisting the temptation for 5 minutes to check what is in your schedule.  Again in order to avoid stress, you should check to see what meetings you have scheduled for your first day so you can see if any need preparation.

This is far better than spending hours clearing your Inbox only to have a meeting reminder pop up on the screen to advise you have a meeting in 15 – 30 minutes for which you need to prepare.

After checking what is in the schedule for today, it is worth taking a look at the next week or two.  This will give you a frame of reference for the coming weeks and, may change the action you take as you review the emails in your Inbox.


When you are happy that you are ready for any scheduled meetings, you can start going through your emails.

Everyone has there own preferred approach.  My preference is to start with the most recent and work backwards.  I do this as it is highly likely that there will be email chains that you have been included on.  So by working backwards you will see the entire story in one email and not have to spend time reading the individual emails.

This approach also means it is less likely that you will start sending out response emails to earlier emails only then to find the matter has been resolved or moved on in a later email, making your response redundant.

As you go through, try to delete / archive the ones that need no action and flag any that need deeper consideration.

You should also avoid emotive responses if an email makes statements you do not believe to be correct.  Remember, you have been out of the office and circumstances may have changed.


Similar to emails, listen to your voicemails.  Hopefully there should not be so many.

Again by going through your email first, hopefully you will have a good idea of how many still require action

Turn Off Out of Office

Applications like Outlook are a lot better now and newer versions allow you to set your return date in the out of office so it automatically switches off.  However, it is worth checking it is turned off as it does not look good if people continue to receive out of office responses when you have returned.

The same applies to out of office voicemail greeting.  Don’t give people the chance to think you are unorganised as you have not switched them off.

Walk the Floor

The best way of getting up to speed quickly is speaking with your team member’s.  That will allow you to quickly understand the current position for any issue.  You may choose to do this before you review your emails as it may reduce the action you need to take.

However, you may want to see what has been raised to you in emails / voicemail so that you can raise with your team members if they do not mention it.


Holidays are important for health and well-being.  They should also be fun and enjoyable.  Following these very practical steps will hopefully help the benefit to last and the transition back to work a bit easier.

You may be interested in the Holiday Planning article to help ensure that you prepare before you leave on annual holiday..