#JustDoBetter – Returning from Leave

“It’s only a ton of email if you read them all.” In this episode, I share my strategy for how I return from leave with maximum efficiency. I’ve fine-tuned this approach to maximize my time and maximize the time of others so we can get back to work and #JustDoBetter.

After taking some well-deserved leave, don’t get caught in quicksand when you return to work. Here are some tips to help you quickly get back in the game with maximum efficiency:

  • Set clear guidance on the major tasks to be accomplished before you go on leave. I usually do this in one email so I can refer back to it if needed.
  • Ensure your standard reporting processes and/or info products are in place (i.e. WAR, staff meeting slides/notes) and be ready to read them when you return.
  • Set aside one hour max to get through your email inbox. Tell your team you need this hour to be interrupted.
    • You only get one hour! Hold yourself accountable to this timeframe!
    • Look for emails from your chain of command first to see what they have said. This will indicate if you need to read the rest of the conversation.
    • Go through all of the calendar invites in one shot. If they are for events that happened in the past, delete them.
    • If you recognize certain emails are recurring “info only” types, file them away without opening them (you have a filing system, right?)
    • For system-generated emails, i.e. LeaveWeb, delete them all. Those emails are distractions right now. Open a window with the system and then perform all actions there.
  • Visit your boss in person and ask how things are going (to get a sense of his/her current stress level) and then ask if there are any immediate tasks you need to take on (you may have to go back to your inbox to find details), then return to your office.
  • Read the latest WARs from your team for operational details; take notes on what you want to follow up on
  • Read the latest staff meeting slides/notes for administrative details; take notes on what you want to follow up on.
  • Settle back into your battle rhythm and keep moving forward. The important things will become important again to you (i.e. someone will contact you) and you don’t have to waste time seeking them out.