So you've been on vacation. Or maternity leave (ahem). Or maybe just out sick for a few days without notice. You've been accustomed to having a mind like water and now that you are back to work, you are in over your head -- pun intended. So how do you get back to getting things done?
1. Gather your inboxes.
Go through all your inboxes and pull all your voicemails, mail, emails, etc. Get everything you need to deal with together and create a plan of attack. Need to get money in the door? Open the mail first. Are your customers waiting on you with urgent needs? Maybe your voicemail is more important. Were you in the middle of a big project? Maybe your email should come first. Figure out what is most important and then go through that first.
2. Be aggressive in your processing.
If you have 50 voicemails (I remember those days), listen to them all. I used to write mine down in chronological order and answer them in the order received unless it was a time-sensitive or extra important issue. Those got bumped to the head of the list. Personally, I would write them in a steno pad and highlight the ones to be called back first. When checking your mail, set aside anything that is obviously junk. In fact, do you REALLY need to open it? Chances are slim that you will miss something.
Open and pile checks to deposit and judge whether or not other mail is urgent without opening, when possible. Delete newsletters, promo emails or anything else you will probably not need. Most emails stay in deleted items for a little while and unless you actually plan on purchasing from a company in the next few days, it's not likely that their newest promotion is useful to you anyway. Also, start with the most recent emails. Many times, I found that by the time I returned, the problem resolved itself, allowing me to just delete earlier emails.
3. Make a plan.
Now that you've gone through your inboxes & processed them, you can form a plan about the most important items to take care of. I typically take care of the important items that have been festering FIRST and then take what comes at me after my return. Once you've done this, you should be back on an even keel within a day or two and working on projects again.
What tips do you have for getting back into work after a break?
Jen Steed writes about technology, travel and more. You can find her writing for various online and print publications. To talk to Jen or see all of her articles as they are published, you can follow Jen on Google+.