I’m back in the office after some time away.
Summer = one of the perks of working at an academic institution.
The first day back after summer is a bit surreal. You’re back, but you’re not really back.
It takes time to reconnect when you’ve been away. It could be summer break. It could be a vacation. It could be a new season for your sport. There are a lot of moments when we leave something and come back. Some are easy to jump back into while other times take a more intentional effort.
So here I am on Day #1, preparing for a new school year. I’ve done this before…it’s my 12th year in my position on campus. You might be getting ready to return as well – to school, to work, or to a team you stepped away from for awhile. Since I get to do this every year, I have a plan in place to make the transition more smoothly.
I focus on reconnecting in three areas. Each one motivates me to get back in the game.
1. Reconnect relationally
One of the first things I do is spend time with the people I work with. We have conversations. We talk about what has taken place since we were last together. The people I work with are more important than the tasks I need to get done. I will go around and say “hi” to as many people as I can. I will smile a lot. I will ask a lot of questions. I will be genuinely happy to see them again. It is so much harder to find the motivation to my work when I haven’t taken the time to reconnect with the people I work with.
2. Reconnect organizationally
Have you ever experienced the moment when you were on vacation or on a break and you wondered what day it was? That’s the sure sign that you’re getting away from it all. But now you’re back and that means coming back to it all. I spent this morning clearing the decks. Surprisingly, I left a mess of my office when I left and no one came in and cleaned it up. This morning I worked hard at putting everything in its place. The clutter was replaced with clean.
This is also a good time to get your calendar back in shape. Used properly, your calendar is your best organizational tool. It will help you to establish your rhythms and organize your life. I have a tendency to slowly slide back into work-mode. My calendar helps me to do what’s necessary and be productive from Day #1.
3. Reconnect mentally
If you’ve made your favorite scenic photo from your vacation your new desktop wallpaper, you are probably struggling to reconnect mentally. Oftentimes, it’s hard enough to just return, let alone reconnect. But it’s important to have an awareness of what your mindset is on your first day back (excitement or dread?, anticipation or hesitation?)
I’ve discovered that the first two areas help me do better with this third area. My body may be 100% back in the office, but my mind hasn’t fully arrived. But the process is accelerated when I reconnect relationally and organizationally.
As I reconnect with people, I feel energized. As I begin to think about the future and put tasks, appointments, and plans on my calendar, I feel energized. Writing down what I hope to accomplish in my first week back is helpful. Cleaning up my work area seems to get me more invested.
So let me ask you: How do you reconnect with work, school, or your team when you’ve been away for a period of time?