Take the pain out of returning to work

LARISSA HAM
Last updated 13:46 14/01/2014
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BOOK ANOTHER BREAK: Sure, it's only your first week back, but what better time to plan a few holidays away from the daily grind?

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There's only one bad thing about holidays - they inevitably come to an end, leaving real life beckoning.

After sunny days at the beach, and more rum balls than you can poke a stick at, it can be a supreme battle to shift back into work mode.

So here are 10 expert tips to get cracking, and make 2014 a year to remember.

1. Don't turn on your computer straight away

As tempting as it is to start sorting through hundreds of emails on your first day back, resist for the first couple of hours, says business coach and motivational speaker Jen Harwood.

"As soon as you turn your computer on you are in major fix-it mode. When you're in major fix-it mode you won't create anything."

Instead, "get out a plain piece of paper and write down a list of things you want to achieve in the year and what's important and then turn your computer on", Harwood says.

It might be five points on a Post-It note, but if you don't do it, you run the risk of slipping back into "groundhog day".

Areas to consider are time, team, family and health.

2. Think about the money

Want to make more? Review your prices to make sure they reflect the market, the value you're giving and the profit margins you want, Harwood says.

Set targets and budgets for your team, or yourself, and start measuring from your first week back.

"You get what you measure, so wishful thinking isn't going to increase your profits or lock down new sales," she says.

3. Book your holidays

Sure, it's only your first week back, but what better time to book a few breaks from the daily grind?

It will give you something to look forward to and get you thinking about what you need to do to prepare for your next holiday.

"When you know you are going to be away for two to three weeks in May, you can start getting your team ready to work without you," Harwood says.

4. Put your family and your health first

Harwood suggests re-setting your working hours so you have time for the things that are important to you.

"No health and no family isn't a lot of fun, so get your priorities sorted now and make the business work for you," she says.

5. "Don't buy into other people's universes"

That's the advice of Lisa Murray, who runs Revive Business Coaching.

She says you should ask yourself: "What is it that I would like to create?" and really being aware of that energy, rather than buying into everybody else's ideas.

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"Be clear about what you're choosing and then choose it."

6. Think very big

"Actually set your targets way, way, way bigger than what you think is possible," Murray advises.

"Think how big can I make this, how amazing can this be? Really expand it rather than contract it into some narrow little thing."

This year, for example, Murray had planned to run events in six countries. However, she might rethink that goal, by asking herself: "What would it take to do 20 countries and thousands of people?"

She says many people set their targets low because of a fear of failure, but by setting them higher, the result will likely fall somewhere in the middle.

7. Start the day well

Spend your first two hours on tasks that give you satisfaction, Murray says.

Kicking off on a good note can make it easier to tackle tasks later in the day that are difficult or less interesting.

8. Be aware you're going to start a little flat

Many of us get too little sleep and exercise, and eat and drink too much, over the holidays, says author and conference speaker David Penglase. This can result in depleted energy levels and a lack of focus.

"There are a lot of people who start the post-Christmas work period feeling like they need a break," Penglase says.

One solution is moderating your excesses over the break; another is just being mindful that it's going to take a little effort to get back into the swing of things.

9. Get cracking on your new diary

Penglase says diarising your tasks is crucial in keeping yourself accountable. But it shouldn't simply be a to-do list.

He says it should also include four key activities for each day: the ways in which you're going to find clients, win clients, keep them and then manage these three tasks.

10. Reward yourself

Hopefully, you will have given yourself time to reflect during the break.

But don't forget to plan some simple rewards to keep you motivated along the way, Penglase says.

For example, after making 12 phone calls you could take a 30-minute walk in the park. Take your family to dinner after a big win, and celebrate little successes.

"If I wait until the end of the year I might run out of steam if I'm not rewarding myself along the way," Penglase says.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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