I’m heading back to work this fall and I’m a little bit nervous.
I’ve been out of work, on purpose, for the last year or so. We moved and then moved again very quickly. Having a job for such a short time just didn’t make sense. Especially when you factor in the child care search and expenses!
Returning to the workforce after such a long break or any break can be tough. I have fallen out of my workday routines and habits. Right now, I wake up as late as my toddler will let me and have lots of time to drink my formerly warm coffee.
Here are 6 tips to help you get back in the swing of things when returning to work.
How to Get Back in the Swing of Things After a Work Break
Set It, Don’t Forget It
Your alarm, that is! The week before you go back to work, plan to set your alarm a little earlier every day. I usually start with 5- or 10-minute increments, but you can use something that works for you.
By setting your alarm a little earlier every day, your body will be used to an earlier rise and shine when your big day arrives!
Lay It Out
One of the best tricks my mom ever taught me is the value of clothing prep. Every night before school, I pulled out my clothes for the next day and set them out in my room. Even as an adult, with kids of my own, I still prep my outfits the night before – because not all of us wear digi print daily.
Having my clothes ready to go in the morning makes everything smoother. I know what I am wearing, making the dig through my closet a thing of the past. I (almost) never run out of clean undies and if I do I have time to throw in a quick wash.
I can also game plan my hair and makeup strategy: wash my locks or leave them dirty, up or down, bright lipstick or neutral palette?
Slow Cook Everything
Pinterest is FULL of creative pins for overnight oats and slow cooker meals. Use them, love them.
I am unashamed to admit that my house is a slow cooker home.
On Sunday nights, I make a big batch of oatmeal in my smaller cooker. This sets us up for breakfast every day for the week. On Monday, a whole chicken or a roast is cooking away all day long while I am at work. When I get home, all I need to do is add some veggies and a carb. Dinner is served!
As a bonus, slow cookers can make food in big batches with very little effort on your part. This makes it easier to set up lunch and dinners from the leftovers for a few days.
For example, that whole chicken will turn into at least 2 lunches (straight leftover chicken dinner or chicken salad sandwiches) and 2 more dinners (chicken pot pie with frozen veggies and pre-made pie crust, plus chicken soup).
Back in the Swing of Things Pro-tip: Cook once. Eat all week long!
Get Out the Door
Like everything else, prep is key for a smooth morning. I keep all my work things, like shoes and bags, right near the main exit. I stuff my bags the night before with whatever I might need: reports I took home to review, extra gum or even a few snacks. After I make lunch, that goes next to my work bag.
At go time, I slip on my shoes, pick up my bags and slip out the door.
Take It Slow(er)
Routines are easier to set up at home: you control most things there. Routines at work are on someone else’s schedule. It can be hard to go from living life and checking emails at your leisure to operating with deadlines and timetables. So take it slower at first.
Be forgiving of yourself. I know that my lesson plans weren’t perfect when I returned from maternity leave. Instead of beating myself up about it, I noted what was wrong or could be better and made the effort to correct it the next day.
Ask Questions, Request Help
Whether you are going to a brand new job or jumping back into your previous position, things will be different. Ask questions! Every job is different, so your questions might be different than mine. After maternity leave, I found out about new programs, new report formats and different schedules.
It is also super important to ask for help when you need it. When you succeed at work, your whole office becomes better too.
People want to help you! You just need to ask.
Find a more experienced coworker or ask your supervisor for a peer mentor. Having someone to show you the ropes and offer kind suggestions to improve your work can be so valuable.
As you head back to work, there will be bumps in the road. That’s OK. It’s normal!
By taking it slow at first and doing night-before prep work at home, your transition back to the workforce can be much smoother and easier!