As a small or medium business owner, you might be wearing many hats. Or let's be honest – in most cases, you're probably wearing all the hats. It means that your business depends on you and your ''always on'' mode, which is the reason you might be avoiding taking time off at all costs.
But life is life, and it happens. Sometimes it knocks you off your feet and forces you to take a break – be it a health-related break or simply longer-than-usual national holidays. And sometimes it can be something very much planned, such as parental leave or a well deserved vacation.
Returning to work after a break can be hard, regardless of the nature of your absence. The longer your time off is, the more daunting it may feel to return. So, how do you get yourself and your business back on track? How not to feel overwhelmed and confused, or even desperate from the workload that has accumulated while you were off?
Out of mind, out of heart
On the first day after returning back to running your business, sit down and create a to-do list. Write down every single thing that comes to mind that needs to be done – both the big stuff and tiny things, such as correcting a typo on your website or buying a pen for your work desk.
Very often the reason we feel overwhelmed is because we keep our task list in our heads. Writing everything down – on a piece of paper or in an app – is a way to free your mind and allow yourself to forget about these things until it's their turn to be done. This reduces stress and anxiety, and gives your mind the freedom it needs to be able to think clearly.
When your to-do list is finished, take a look at it with your now-free mind and start prioritizing. If some tasks still look huge and undoable, divide them into even smaller ones until each little task separately doesn't look that scary anymore.
For example, you might have realized that an offline store is not enough for your business anymore and it needs a website. Building a website sounds like a months-long project, even if you choose to do it with a website builder, such as Mozello, which doesn't require you to learn any programming skills. But what if your first tasks are creating an account on Mozello and choosing a domain name? Doesn't sound that big and scary, does it?
Small steps first, giant leaps later
If your break has been longer, or the depth of your mental derailment deeper, you might need more time to regroup your mind and switch your work mode back on. If that's your case, you might find yourself sitting puzzled at your to-do list for several days, unable to understand which end to start getting things done from – and how?
In such cases, a way to help yourself get back on track is focusing on the simplest tasks on your to-do list. Leave your big and maybe even urgent tasks untouched for a day or so, and start ticking off the small stuff – answer simple emails, post an update on social media, or buy that pen.
You might feel obligated to jump straight into new projects or take care of big tasks on the first day after your return. But you are not. In fact, doing so would be a recipe for fast burnout. So, take it easy and don't feel guilty about it. If something was able to wait for weeks while you were away, it will surely wait for a couple of days more.
By completing the easy tasks and ticking them off your to-do list, you will not only help yourself get back into the work mode more seamlessly, but will also feel the excitement and motivation of getting things done. Besides, there are few things in life that make you feel as good as crossing something out of your task list.
Can you fill me in?
Just because you've been absent, the world did not stop spinning and things managed to happen during this time. And you missed them. Now what? Sometimes the best way to get back on track faster, is to talk to other people and ask them to fill you in.
One chat with a colleague during a coffee break, and you can get a glimpse of the big new project they're working on right now. A call with a client, and they'll fill you in about the most important updates on their end that you should know. An after-work drink with a fellow freelancer, and you'll have the chance to ask about what's changed in the industry and new trends in your niche to pay attention to.
There's an app for it
No matter what you're trying to achieve in your life right now, there's probably an app to help you do it. And if your goal is to return to work after a longer break, there are a bunch of apps for it, too.
To-do list apps
Apps like Todoist orAny.do are great for creating task lists, sorting them according to projects, setting priority levels, due dates, etc. You can use different labels and colors for various projects and to separate your personal to-do list items from work assignments.
Music & sound apps
Music can have a significant impact on your mood and productivity after returning to work. Depending on what you want you to achieve, you can either:
- Boost your productivity with specially designed music for focus on Brain.fm
- Listen to calming nature sounds on Noisli
- Fire up your favorite vacation playlist on Spotify or Apple Music to prolong the holiday feeling
Distracting app blockers
It’s not easy to focus on your first days back after a long vacation or sick leave. In order to avoid checking your phone too often, try one of the many apps for balanced phone use, like Freedom, which allows you to block the sites you deem distracting. Or Moment app that lets you schedule daily time limits on the apps you use on your iPhone.
Meditation or mindfulness app
Even short mindfulness sessions can be beneficial when you’re back at work after a break and feel overwhelmed or anxious. Headspace is a popular app designed for solving different stress-related issues, like troubled sleep, anxiety, etc. Another mindfulness app - Buddhify - offers short contemplations and meditation “on the go.”
Focus & motivation apps
There are many focus apps to help those who feel demotivated at work and need a hand to stay on task. For example, the notification scheduling app Daywise lets you set a period of time within which you’re happy to receive notifications, as well as mute certain notifications altogether.
There's light at the end of the tunnel
Even if you don't see it right now.
There's an end of your to-do list, too, but you'll probably never reach it anyway. Because growing your own business involves too many things to manage and do, and sometimes it can get chaotic even if you're on all day, every day.
The good news?
With the suggestions mentioned above, it's possible to maneuver your workload without anxiety and wanting to jump out of the window. And as always, if you need any support or advice on building a website, know that the Mozello team is ready to help!