You can tell it is early September. The skies are clearing nicely, the humidity is about perfect and it’s wall-to-wall sunshine outside. All your child-free friends are streaming out of the country for their own holidays and you can watch what you want on TV without having to navigate a slightly grumpy teenager permanently slumped in an armchair with perceived rights over the remote control 24/7.
Back in the office you return to the inevitable backlog of emails, many originating from those who have gone out of their way to ignore the ‘out of office’ notification you worded carefully before departing for your own holiday.
Those first few days back at work are always a little disorientating. The loss of freedom to wander off when and where you like is always a shock. What happened to the ‘stick on the same pair of shorts and t-shirt for 4 days running’, lifestyle? You can’t open a beer at 11.30am anymore just because you can (well you could but people will talk!).
The demob happy decisions to put off some of the trickier projects and decisions until after your holiday now look like the irresponsible choices of a dangerous hedonist, as your task list turns ‘urgent red’ across the board in front of you. Where do you start to address it all?
In fact this is a good time to try and avoid getting stuck in the same furrow you were stuck in before you went away. Before you do anything else do these things:
- Meet with the key managers/staff members around you. Get them to brief you before you touch anything else. This will empower you from the start to know what has been dealt with in your absence and to identify potential issues.
- Go through your inbox and delete everything that is not relevant or needs a reply. You can do this quickly. It will save you a lot of time and leaves you with a hardcore of ‘real’ work emails.
- Look at your task list? What are 30% of those tasks even doing on your plate? They are there because you took your eye off the ball in the weeks before your holiday when you forgot to delegate. Get rid of the grind tasks. Others are there to pick those up.
- Stop trying to control everything. Another 10 to 15% of your tasks will be focused on checking on other people to see if they have done stuff you asked them to. Set them the task and timescale, ask them to report back to you and just put a long stop deadline in your diary.
See, you feel better already don’t you? Finally, be nice to yourself in the first few days back. Don’t do a 12 hour day on day one. Go home at 5.30pm, pour yourself a glass of that holiday wine, put your shorts back on and enjoy the September sunshine.
Chris Hunter – rhw Solicitors llp