Back After a Break, aka "Do my pants still fit?"
Updated: Sep 15
Question: Any best practices for returning to work after a break?
Reply: There are some things I prep before going back from consultant to full time office days. This particular question was from a person who was fortunate enough to take a business quarter off between jobs.
Here's my usual countdown (with lots of variation).
THREE WEEKS BEFORE GOING BACK:
Write a list of all the things you haven't done, but meant to do before the new job. (This could include organizing email, reading a certain book, etc.) Include health, fitness, relationship and family items that need to get sorted but that you've been ignoring.
Rank them in importance and then tackle at least one a day. You will feel like a champ when you get to work. Really.
TWO WEEKS BEFORE GOING BACK:
1. Start waking up at business time you're going to have to wake up and leave the house at the time you would be leaving for work. Go for coffee, do errands. The physical act of being in a new location will get you in the rhythm of work.
2. Start going to sleep at the right time. (I usually start to move my workout).
3. Also prep meals (for your first two weeks of work). That means plan simple meals and think about shopping lists. The less you have to think about after your first couple days of work the better. I like to do big pots of soups that we freeze.
If you're a non-cook and order in, STILL PLAN AHEAD. The risk is liquid meals for a week accompanied by chips and salsa. (Been there, done that.)
4. TRY ON YOUR WORK CLOTHES. Take things to the cleaners- hang them in your closet. Pick your outfits for the first week. (Again, the voice of a bad experience speaking). "You're Welcome!"
5. It takes a village. Arrange for kid care, meals, etc. If you haven't already. If you have been doing care-giving (of any kind) start making instruction lists for whoever is taking over. If you're continuing to do both (done that too) really make your lists.
ONE WEEK BEFORE GOING BACK:
Continue to do the morning wake up and now add staying active for a sustained time.
I usually schedule appointments with someone for work lunches at least a couple of those days. My biggest transition is from quiet to a stream of people with requests, questions (and answers).
I also spend that week doing work planning. I treat it like Back to School. I prep folders of templates and tools I might need, and plan meetings I want to schedule etc. I also prep my little 📓 I carry everywhere.
DAY before definitely lay out your clothes. Plan your breakfast, and anticipate things might go wonky with housemates, animals, kids, etc. Give yourself time to get ready and get to work.
The first two weeks back pace yourself emotionally. You're going to be expending a lot of energy on new people. Prep anyone you live with or socialize with- about the fact that you might be zoned out (usually around the 3rd day), and will need patience.