Unfolding plans 84 – first days back

I’m never sure about first days back.  You’ve been on holiday, everything is relaxed and you are chilled out yet the prospect of going back to work ruins your last day.  Why?  It’s something you do every Monday after the weekend and if work is something you enjoy overall then why the perturbation?

I think it’s the fear that you’ll come back to some disaster or that work will be backed up and it will take you months to catch up.  Yet if something bad had really happened then you would have been told anyway.  There is just no way of avoiding it these days.  Social media would have seen to that if a phone call or text didn’t work.  It has been only a week and how much of a backlog could have accrued?

I know these things yet I am not immune.  The night before I go back I lie in bed, tossing and turning, with my mind racing through all the things that will no doubt be waiting for me.  But I felt bad before leaving to go on holiday as well.  I rushed around like a mad thing to make sure I buttoned everything down before going so as not to worry.  I was completely up to date.  I know all of this yet still I can’t sleep.  It didn’t work.

And of course when I do get to work, earlier than I would have done, nothing is as bad as it may have been.  By 10 o’clock I’ve more or less caught up with my email and am able to concentrate on all of the things I had planned to work on anyway.  Nothing disastrous had happened.  One or two niggling things had occurred but they do anyway.  Anything urgent had been covered by others in my more-than-capable team.  By 11 o’clock life was back to normal.  Apart from my tan it was if the holiday had never happened.

There is even a name for the back-to-work blues.  According to Wikipedia, ‘sufferers of ergophobia experience undue anxiety about the workplace environment even though they realize their fear is irrational. Their fear may actually be a combination of fears, such as fear of failing at assigned tasks, speaking before groups at work, socializing with co-workers and other fears of emotional, psychological or physiological injuries.’

So is there a remedy for beating such feelings?  Apparently not one that I have discovered but it would seem that the best course of action is to ease yourself back in gently.  Don’t rush to address all of those emails at once.  Don’t try and catch up as soon as your bottom hits the seat or even before you get there.  Instead work at a pace that you are used to.  You might even want to leave your out of office on a day longer to gain a bit of head space.

Another suggestion is to try something different when you get back.  Start a new project or make contact with a new colleague.  It sounds counter intuitive yet a change, as we all know, is as good as a rest.

Alternatively you could always book another holiday.

About philjackman

Guerrilla Worker, strategic thinker, occasional maverick and reluctant over-achiever with an interest in culture change, creative opportunities and regional development.
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