• Tara Humphrey

4 Top Tips to Reduce Overwhelm When Returning to Work After Leave

Updated: Dec 24, 2021

Like many of you, I am returning to work after the Christmas break.


Returning to work after can be overwhelming, and despite the planning you did before you went on leave, Im sure your inbox will be overflowing, and your to-do list in your head will be as long as your arm.


In this blog, I thought I would remind you of some simple tips to help you transition smoothly back into work mode and help you start the year as you mean to go on.



1. Adjust your expectations. It may be a little unrealistic to catch up on all of the communications and ongoing work in your first few days back, and this is completely okay. Try not to undo all that R&R by working like crazy. Sometimes slow and steady wins the race.

2. Plan your days and prioritise. Don’t just sit down and get swallowed up by your email or waste time procrastinating on tasks that do not need your attention straight away.

Get out your pad, and do an initial brain dump of all of the things on your mind. Review your email and your diary commitments for the month ( not just this week), and then make a plan of action.

I would also advise you to cut your to-do list in half for the first couple of days, as things may take a little longer as you transition from holiday mode back into work mode.

3. Try not to book any new meetings in the first couple of days. Use this time to plan, review and clear your email.

If you do already have meetings booked in the diary, allow for some planning time to ensure the meeting is a productive use of your time.

4. Work on one task at a time. Do not start your next task until you have fully finished processing your current one. If you suddenly remember something you have to do, write it down and return to the task at hand. Task switching is a recipe for overwhelm.

These tips are not just helpful when returning to work after annual leave; they are things we can all bear in mind to help boost our productivity year-round.


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Tara provides project and network management to Primary Care Networks and coaching support to clinical leads and has worked with 11 Training Hubs and has now worked with 18 Primary Care Networks to date.


Tara has an MBA in Healthcare Leadership and Management, is published in the London Journal of Primary Care, is the author of over 200 blogs also hosts The Business of Healthcare Podcast.

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