You know how it is- you finally took that much-needed PTO, turned off your email notifications, and recharged for a few days. But while you were gone, the emails were piling up, Jira notifications were ticking away, and now, new meetings are about to start for the week. The feeling of being overwhelmed rushes over you, and now it seems you have double or triple the workload! Those sunny walks in the park start to get further and further away. sigh
But work marches on, and so will you! Here are some tips for keeping your head above water after returning from PTO:
1. Clear Your Inbox
I’m a big proponent of the Inbox Zero method, keeping my inbox empty (or close to it!) at all times. It keeps my mind, workspace, and tasks tidy.
Keeping this in mind, we recommend that you pass through your email log and check anything that requires no action. Someone completed a Jira ticket? Good to know, send it to the trash. Billing went out on time without issues? Excellent, trash.
This will leave behind only the important emails.
Next, create tasks for emails that will take longer than a few minutes to respond to. That includes emails that need reports, investigation, or more than one person involved. This should leave behind only the most important and easily accomplishable tasks:
- Simple responses
- Updates on ongoing projects that may have languished while you were away
2. Focus on Tasks and Set Due Dates
It can be overwhelming to see tasks stacked up after being away for a week or two. Getting them in order and attaching due dates will make them feel more manageable. Put them on the calendar, build in time for deep focus on longer tasks, and delegate what you can!
Due dates will help to set expectations for yourself and others. Be clear about this. Send a message to the people waiting for the task to be completed. “Hey, I wanted to let you know I have [x] task on my list and should have that done by tomorrow, by the end of the day.” This helps to let them know you are working on it and gives you the confidence to push that mentally away until tomorrow, when you plan to do it.
3. You Don’t Need to Understand Everything Right Away
People know you were away, and they’re generally gracious with giving you time to get caught up. It’s also okay that you’re not immediately on top of each team member’s current status. If you have planned well, everything should be roughly in the right place anyway.
Being transparent with clients and team members about this will go a long way. You can send a message to team members that says something like, “I saw a few things got done last week, but were there any tasks you were waiting for that didn’t?” This will ensure you’ve opened the loop with the person to close later.
4. Go for a Walk
For writers, it’s common advice to go for a walk when you’re stuck on a problem or experiencing “writer’s block.” The same advice applies when you’re stuck on tasks and projects. With a clear mind, you can return to your tasks with newfound confidence, fresh perspectives, and potential solutions.
You might notice that some “problems” become less important and shift off the list entirely while some fuzzier issues start to come into focus. Then, you can begin to take steps (see what we did there?!) toward solving them.
Embracing this natural ebb and flow of problem-solving can empower you to approach challenges more effectively.
5. Ask for Help
Ask your team for assistance. If it all becomes too much, it may be time to bring another team in to help. Have you fallen behind on regular application maintenance? What about version upgrades? Or systems reliability tasks? Our team is well-versed and ready to jump into any situation you might have with our fractional development services.
But most importantly, we’ll help you protect your investment.
Take PTO without FOMO
Fear of missing out can apply to your work life, too! But schedule time off with confidence by getting organized beforehand:
- Prioritize tasks
- Build up your delegation skills
- Ask for some help to clear out that backlog