Sometimes the holidays don’t feel much like a vacation, especially when it’s time to get back to work. Email backlog is looming, and holiday fatigue can make returning to the office feel like just another thing on an exhausting list, but it doesn’t have to be another draining to-do. Instead of dreading the first commute of the new year, consider trying out these five strategies for hitting a post-holiday reset button and launching into a successful Q1.
It may be tempting to go straight from vacation mode to office mode (shock therapy, right?), but that’s not the best idea. Instead of jumping back in headfirst, Val Wright, President of Val Wright Consulting, recommends using your first day as a chance to catch up and reconnect. Filter through emails, prioritizing what needs to be dealt with as soon as possible versus what can wait a while. Avoid sales calls, formal meetings, or outside engagements, and schedule check-ins with employees and teammates instead. By giving yourself time to adjust, you’ll encourage focus and calm within yourself.
If you’re extra ambitious and work in an office environment, try to be the first one in on your first morning back. This will give you have a few minutes to physically adjust before everyone else arrives.
The New Year is a chance to start your team off with a clean slate, so take some time to focus in on each team member individually. If there is any lingering tension from a pre-holiday fiasco, now is the perfect time to make sure it’s completely settled. Data (and common sense) has confirmed that communication is key to building successful teams, and initiating these conversations in the first few days back will increase the chance of them continuing through the year.
Do the same with those you rely on to stay in business. Make a list of past, present, and potential clients, as well as any vendors you rely on, and reach out to each one individually. Don’t ask for anything, just take one of the first days back to express your appreciation. While meeting in person or a quick call are ideal, an email will do just fine. You can even use a template email if the list is daunting. Just make sure that it is sent to them specifically, not as part of a mass New Year's newsletter, as this will increase the chance of a positive response.
While you’re helping your teammates set goals, don’t forget to set some of your own! Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist at Stanford University, suggests setting goals that matter and that are also meaningful to you personally, so start by taking a look at your business plan. Does anything need to be refreshed? Are there places where you’ve gone off-track? Even if everything is going great, there are always new goals to aim for.
While you write your goals down, here are two things McGonigal says you should keep in mind: first, be sure to frame your goal as a positive thing you will do, rather than a negative thing that you won’t do. Also, be sure to include details on how you plan to accomplish each goal. Thinking through the process is the first step towards achievement.
If you don’t have your dream office (or if you do, but you’ve let it get a little messy in the rush toward the holidays) consider some early spring cleaning. Rejuvenating your space will refocus your mind and improve your output. Research has found that incorporating blue into your workspace can increase productivity. Red is great if you need to be high energy, while green is good for staying alert and engaged.
Something as simple as buying a plant (a pothos is a good low-maintenance option if you don’t have a green thumb) or a sunny family photo can have a significant impact on your work, especially during colder months when the less-than-balmy weather can make it challenging to stay optimistic.
Q1 is a new beginning, but it’s also an opportunity to celebrate the past year’s successes. Holiday parties are great for connecting on a personal level, but it’s easy to forget December’s motivational speeches during holiday vacations. Bringing people together at the beginning of the year to specifically celebrate business-related wins can be just the spark a team needs to launch towards greater success, and you don’t even need to go all-out. Order in some breakfast or lunch, invite individual team members or working groups to share their successes from the previous year, and take a few hours to revel in the collective wins: past, present, and those that are sure to come!