Back to Life

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    This week – changing what you are doing to stay productive, easing back into work, and taking ownership of your career.

    Back to Reality

    It’s the week after Thanksgiving for many of us in the US, and personally I’ve had to ease back into it. Perhaps it was one too many portions of turkey, but my Monday was slow, to say the least.

    There is a good chance that you felt something similar. According to a survey of over 2000 employees by West Monroe Partners – 51% of workers admit they feel either unmotivated or overwhelmed when returning after the holidays. Our own work with employees in flexible work environments leads me to believe that this percentage is actually low, at least for employees in unstructured, ambiguous work environments.

    This should not be surprising. While the holidays can be a time to relax and recharge for some – for others they can be times of stress – travelling at the busiest time of the year, gathering in close proximity to people that we wouldn’t choose to hang out with at other times, spending more money, preparing a complex meal that can easily go wrong, dealing with worsening weather and shorter days, and sometimes even getting sick.

    But, even for those of us who genuinely chill out, there can be a challenge of getting back into the rhythm of the workday after a few days off. We’ve uncovered three important reasons why:

    • The Backlog – If you took last Thursday and Friday off, it’s likely that the amount of work you needed to do didn’t magically shrink by 40%. So, much of that work sat in front of you on Monday morning, waiting for you, not done. As we’ve discussed previously in this newsletter, the stress of additional work can actually reduce productivity as we come to terms with it.
    • The Skills – Your family are often very different to your colleagues (though of course in some cases they overlap). (Check out this excellent article from Shelley Cadamy that shows clearly why organizations and families are different constructs, despite some companies arguing to the contrary). This, combined with the traditions of the holidays often means we use different skills in a holiday setting than we use at work on a day-to-day basis.
    • The Isolation – If you are surrounded by others during the holidays, but you tend to work more solo, getting back to work can feel isolating and lonely. On the flip side, if you are away from others over the holidays, that can also feel very isolating and difficult to recover from as you return to work.

    So, if you have found it difficult to get back into the zone this week, you really are not alone. Rather than trying to force things, recognize that it’s part of being human, and ease yourself back in by using techniques like the one I mention in our video above.


    Dr. Chaz is Back

    Once again, thanks to those of you that have contacted me about our Humanity Working podcast – it’s one of my very favourite things to do so I’m really glad you find it useful. We’ve been getting some requests for repeat guests, and top of that list was Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D. (He/Him). Dr. Chaz is one of the leading experts in career management and has a host of valuable resources on the topic you can find through his profile.

    Our discussion was really wide-ranging, occasionally provocative, but always entertaining. Dr. Chaz shared his views on how employees can remain highly valuable from when they leave school through to retirement.

    As ever, you can find the audio of Humanity Working on your favourite podcasting platform, or watch the full video below:

    What Am I Doing?

    Video Length: 1 minute 53 seconds

    Over the past few months in this newsletter, I’ve covered how the nature of your environment can alter how effective you are at work, and how changing your environment can increase your productivity. Today, my animated twin looks at this from a different angle – how understanding more deeply the types of work you do, and then switching between work modalities can help you get more done overall.

    As you are planning your next week, check out these suggestions to help you out!

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