How to Hack Your Way from Holiday to Work Mode


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16th January 2019

The holiday season is officially over. If you haven’t done so already, pack away the Christmas lights, rid yourself of Christmas cheer, and release your inner grinch. If the elves are back already in Santa’s toyshop, you don’t really have an excuse.

But, and there is a but here, it can be tough switching back into work mode – especially when you’re returning to the office off the back of a wonderful holiday. Still, bread winners need to win bread, and if you’re just getting back into the swing of things you might just benefit from a few pointers:

First and foremost, switching off from holiday mode doesn’t start on your first day back, but the days before. On the Saturday night get eight hours of sleep, no more no less. It is a common belief that sleep deprivation is best overcome by long hours spent in bed, and, if people want to perform at work, they need to be well rested. Which is partially true. Research studies routinely confirm the fact that good sleep patterns improve memory recall and function, but also that we sleep more efficiently when we are tired. With the average Briton only getting six and a half hours sleep a night, that sleep debt is actually better paid by getting efficient sleep rather than lots of it. Spending too long in bed creates a delay in your circadian rhythm, often leading to Sunday night insomnia. Eight hours of sleep is optimal.

Now that you’re well-rested and wide awake, take some time to re-establish your morning routines. Whether you hit the gym, meditate, or spend a few minutes on social media, whatever it is the simple act of performing these little rituals will help prepare you for the Monday ahead. If you happen to be feeling particularly proactive, sneak a peak at your emails: bin the irrelevant ones and prioritise the important. That’s it. That’s all you have to do today.

Monday morning has been a breeze. But now that you’re at your desk, accept one important thing: you’re going to be slow, so plan accordingly. Set aside some time for your emails, reply to the important ones, immediately confirm any immovable all-important deadlines, and clear the cutter out of your inbox.

With that done, parcel your time into smaller chunks of around twenty-five minutes, and set a timer to prove to your brain that you can focus for this long at the very least. Additionally, you might want to schedule some contingency time – not every task is realistically going to be finished in twenty-five minutes. Budget for an hour or so to complete anything that has so far been left by the roadside.

Then get down to ticking off the smaller items on your to-do list. The dopamine boost you get from completing even the smallest of tasks is going to feel rewarding and trains your brain to crave more. As more boxes are ticked off, you will build momentum, and by the time the larger jobs come round you’ll feel more than ready for them. Soon enough you’ll remember what it felt like on your last before the holidays, and voila – you’re back in the swing of things.