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5 Tips for Managing Your To-Do List After Returning from a Holiday

finance leadership time management May 26, 2023

May 2023 in the UK is basically when holidays start.  The sun is FINALLY shining, we're not working Mondays thanks to bank holidays and the King's coronation and the school half term holidays.

Sufficient to say, it's great for holidays, not so great with dealing with the workload.

Returning to work after a relaxing holiday can be both exciting (break from the kids!) and overwhelming. As a busy professional and leader, managing your to-do list effectively becomes crucial to ensure a smooth transition back into the workflow.

To help you tackle your post-holiday tasks, here are five valuable tips on how to manage your to-do list after returning from a holiday.

1. Prioritise and Delegate

Start by reviewing your to-do list and identifying the most critical tasks that require immediate attention.

Prioritise these tasks based on their deadlines and impact on your workflow. Ideally you then want to delegate non-essential or time-consuming tasks to appropriate team members, allowing you to focus on high-priority items and avoid feeling overwhelmed. 

Ideally this kind of delegation and prioritisation should be done regularly, but if it hasn't, post holidays is a good place to start!

2. Break Down Complex Tasks

Returning from a holiday often means facing complex projects or tasks that require significant time and effort. To manage them better, break down these larger tasks into smaller, manageable sub-tasks.

This not only helps to create a clear roadmap and allows you to track progress more effectively but it helps you to get your head around it and not feel overwhelmed.

By having the broken up into smaller chunks, you can have a sense of accomplishment and stay motivated throughout the process.

3. Utilise Time-Management Techniques

Implementing time-management techniques can help your productivity and help you manage your to-do list better. I personally use the Pomodoro Technique, where you work for focused periods (e.g., 25 minutes) followed by short breaks. This helps improve concentration and prevents burnout.

There are also productivity apps or tools can assist in organizing tasks, setting reminders, and tracking progress, making your post-holiday workload more manageable.

4. Avoid Over-commitment

It's essential to avoid overcommitting yourself when you just return from a holiday. Take the time to assess your workload realistically, considering your available resources, deadlines, and priorities.

Be cautious not to take on more than you can handle, as this may lead to stress and compromise the quality of your work. Focus on a few important tasks and complete them thoroughly rather than spreading yourself too thin.

What I often do is set my out of office to the day after I return, so I spend that first day working on emails (even drafting them and scheduling them to go out at the end of the day, so no-one slacks me!) and getting my to-do list in order, so when I "start" back in the office, it's actually day 2 for me and I have had a chance to clear out my inbox and prioritise the next few days.

5. Try to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

While catching up on work is essential, it's equally vital to maintain a healthy work-life balance. After a holiday, it's easy to fall back into old habits of working long hours, sacrificing personal time and well-being. To manage your to-do list effectively, ensure that you schedule breaks, set boundaries, and allocate time for self-care and relaxation. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance allows you to approach tasks with a refreshed mindset, increasing productivity and preventing burnout.

There is nothing worse than feeling refreshed when coming back and then feeling burnt-out within 2 days and all that relaxation and break you desperately needed goes right out the window.  Prioritise yourself.


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