How to take your ‘holiday brain’ back to work

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January can be a slightly strange and disorientating time, getting back to work after a break – but what a great excuse for a reset.

It is hot, you are still finding sand on your scalp and your work clothes feel too small for your body after a holiday in T-shirts and bare feet. You have lost your “desk-fitness”.

While, in the northern hemisphere, people have been back at work for weeks, rugged up in the cold and half-light, Australians and New Zealanders are strolling back to their desks after a much longer break in a quite different frame of mind.

Relaxed and rested, we have a perfect opportunity to try and set a tone for the rest of the year, reflect and work out our business and career strategies. We can cut through the clutter that tends to creep in to our workdays.

“If every month was like January, imagine how strategic we could be.” This remark was made to me by a CEO in a meeting this week.

‘Get off the dance floor’

January is the time for change, for fresh ideas, and for new perspectives.

Ron Heifetz, co-author of The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, talks of leaders “getting off the dance floor and going to the balcony,” removing ourselves from the actions of our meetings, to-do lists, and work pressures and to actually reflect on what we are doing and why.

So, how do we create this same balcony space for ourselves for the other 11 months of the year? This month I have been asking that question a lot with my clients and here are some of their tips:

Tips for keeping in focus

Vision. What’s the one big thing you want to achieve this year? What can you do to keep that visible and energising? Hanging an image or word near my computer monitor reminds me of my goal.

Planning. Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, talks of putting the big rocks in a jar before the pebbles. This mental image refers to the idea that if you are to fill a jar (time) and you put small things in first, you will never be able to fit the big tasks on top. If you put in the big things first, you can then sprinkle in pebbles to fill the spaces, then sand to fill the gaps and top it off with water. Plan your day to include some “big rock” time. Schedule it and don’t let people take it from you. (Pretend it is a client meeting.)

Noise reduction. Cut back on unnecessary distractions. One of my clients has an automatic email reply to let people know that she looks at emails only three times a day, so she is not interrupted every time she gets an email. This sets the expectation that there won’t be an immediate response. As an additional benefit, she notices that people are often solving their own problems and answering their own questions before she gets involved.

Self Care. Part of the reason people come into January with such clarity is that they have had a proper break and are feeling refreshed. What do you need to do to keep yourself refreshed?  What are the boundaries that you don’t cross in terms of work hours? You are the only one who controls whether you keep that “January feeling”. Remember to keep doing the things that give you energy and fresh perspectives.

To learn more about getting of the dance floor, you can find information on our leadership programs here

Wishing you a great 2017,
Janet Horton

About the author: Janet Horton has more than 25 years of leadership, business development and management experience, including 10 years in senior leadership positions. Her industry experience spans across IT, financial services, government, education and SME and includes work in Australia, the US and across Asia. She also started and ran her own organisational change consultancy for five years and served as Executive Coach and Senior Facilitator to senior and high potential women for Women and Leadership Australia – an organisation dedicated to supporting a higher representation of women throughout the Australian workforce and broader community.

Janet has designed Perspectives on Leadership for Women based on her extensive experience. She facilitates programs for senior leaders and their teams. 

Janet has a Master’s degree in Organisational Coaching from Sydney University and is an active member of the University of Sydney Coaching and Mentoring Association.

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