It took me close to 3 weeks to write this article. I kid you not when I say that this thing, I later discovered people call it back-to-work blues, is real. In fact, I have never heard the term until when I searched Google and social media for tips to get back your work flow after holidays.
Apparently, I’m not alone and you reading this right now may be feeling back-to-work blues and wondering what is wrong with you too. You are not off, you are normal and are experiencing a human phenomenon similar to how you feel if you’re a nine-fiver going back to work after a fantastic weekend escapade.
For freelancers, it can be quite challenging to muster motivation to get back to productive work. This hit me hard this January as I continuously failed to deliver on deadlines, and some clients got impatient with me. I simply did not feel like writing. This would have cost me dearly if I hadn’t kicked my heels and snapped out of the slump (yea right!).
But seriously, It’s easy to write these tips and make you think like you just have to do step 1, then 2, then 3 and so on and then boom, you’re back on track, but that is not true.
It takes much more than grit. More importantly, it takes a continuous reminder that this is a fleeting phase and you will get you back in the flow of things and on your feet again.
Below, I share some tips that worked for me when shaking off the back-to-work blues. I hope they work for you too.
I like to make things clean, keep them tidy and pristine. Cleaning is therapeutic for me and since I discovered this, I often go on cleaning sprees: re-arranging cupboards, dusting neglected parts of my room, moving furniture around, cleaning out the refrigerator, or even just folding and refolding my stack of clothes.
Cleaning helps me clear my head and gives me a sense of accomplishment once completed. This sense of accomplishment boosts my momentum and productivity to take me through to the next task.
If you are a work-from-home freelancer, you can experiment with a mini-spring cleaning to get the cobwebs out of your head and back on a work routine.
Take a brief social media break
Social media has its perks for any freelancer. But having been on social media all through the holiday, I had become a little too fond of scrolling through my social feeds time and again, keep up with all the latest trending topics.
I noticed I had assumed the habit of comparing my life with those who had exotic vacations, and as you may know, this leads down a rabbit hole.
Taking a break off social media helped me reset and come back to my reality. If this is you, consider taking some time off to reboot your system and recharge your mind.
Reach out to your social circle
Like most feelings of sadness or depression, you will be tempted to isolate yourself and try to figure out everything on your own. Well, ‘blue’ feelings thrive on isolation and if you want to get out of your rut as quickly as you can you literally have to get out, as in, leave the snugness of your physical space and reach out to friends, family, support group, mentor or even mentee.
You do not have to discuss your ‘problems’ with them, just the act of hanging out and catching up can lift your spirits and inspire you to get back to work.
When I was hit with the back-to-work blues, hanging out with friends, talking to loved ones and other conversations with acquaintances helped me switch my mind back into work mode.
I also found out that reaching out to others with the purpose of just listening to them can help to temporarily take my mind off myself and my issues; and in that space of time, I am able to take the opportunity to focus on my work.
Take it one day at a time
In one of my reflective moments, I became aware that one of the reasons I was stressed about delving into work was that I had looked at all the work set out for me from last year during the holidays and for the rest of the year ahead, and was overwhelmed by all of it.
Thinking back now, I should have slapped some sense into my head for thinking that I have to achieve one year’s worth of work in one day, or that I couldn’t start and rest.
Nevertheless, I have come to my senses and now know that even though I have made all these plans, I can only organise and execute them properly over the coming months and take it all one day at a time, which brings me to my next tip.
Organise your tasks
The last thing I wanted to do when I was feeling cranky about returning to work was write a to-do list and structure my day. No-way!
But even though it was the last thing on my to-do list, pun intended, I had a sense of accomplishment after taking time to reflect and plan. This got me fired up. It helps to go through the pain of planning to get started.
Be gentle on yourself
Borrowing from a popular Nigerian Slang “I can’t come and kee (kill) myself,“ I realised beating myself up for the back-to-work blues, which is a normal human feeling is useless.
I started to go easy on myself and gather my bearings for the work ahead. I can assure you that acknowledging your feelings as normal and felt by many others is a quick way of motivating yourself.
I started from this acknowledgement, went through the steps above and can now confidently tell myself – I am back to work.
If you found this blog helpful, do well to share with your friends and other people who have the back-to-work blues and might need to read it too.
Enjoy the year!