Getting back to work after a break is always difficult. Motivating yourself for January 2021 is going to be particularly challenging after what was such a busy and stress-filled 2020 for PR and communications.
To help you get back into the swing of things, here are eight tips from mental health and PR professionals for setting priorities, achieving goals and keeping your energy up.
1) Make self-care a priority from the start
‘Most people don’t realise that even modest levels of stress cause our cognitive capacity (the ability to focus and make clear decisions) to drop by about 40%. In other words, our efficiency drops and it takes us 40% more time to complete even basic tasks. So, take regular breaks (once an hour for at least five minutes), a 40-minute lunch break and exercise outside, which can be as simple as a walk.
‘Self-care must be the primary priority in January. If necessary, agree some self-care initiatives with your boss: take the pressure off yourself so that you don’t need to hide.’
Mark Newey, psychotherapist and founder of www.headucate.me.
2) Get to bed early
‘The night before you go back to work, make sure you go to bed early and that you have a nice healthy dinner so you’re ready for the morning. Going to bed early will allow you to have a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead, as well as helping you get your sleep schedule back on track.’
David Wiener, training specialist at AI-based fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics.
3) Go through the plans you put together at the end of 2020
‘Remember that exercise you did before leaving the office, where you identified the specific tasks that will need picking up in the New Year? As you begin to get ready for work again, this understanding will immediately give you clarity and focus on what your first few days or first week will look like. This will help you to add more detail to those first few days, as required. It essentially avoids you having to start with a blank sheet of paper, so to speak, and reduces the chances of you procrastinating and feeling a sense of anxiety.’
Danny Sangha, clarity, alignment and confidence coach.
4) Set realistic goals
‘Make sure that you aren’t packing too much in the diary for the first week of January and set some clear goals for Q1. Taking regular breaks once things are up and running again and planning each working day where possible creates structure and means you are working to a clear set of deliverables each day instead of feeling overwhelmed.’
Lauren Lunn Farrow, founder and MD of TheExpertAgency.co.uk.
‘If you are worried about getting motivated again, why not schedule a planning day into the week you return to work. A day to really gather yourself up and recharge your motivation. Set manageable goals in this time to help you break it down and write lists for each project to help you get back into the swing of things.’
Mental health campaigner Ali McDowall, co founder of The Positive Planner.
5) Don’t skimp on rest
‘When returning to work in January be sure to build periods of rest into your working day and see how much it improves productivity. It is time for us to truly begin to acknowledge the need for recovery and rest in our working days. We can no longer run our lives in a relentlessly linear fashion collapsing with fatigue at the end of the every day. Make 2021 the year when we put our wellbeing at the top of the agenda.’
Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, neurophysiologist and sleep expert.
6) Give yourself a stern talking to if you need it
‘Visualise your work done which will help you to actually do it. Speak firmly to yourself – “You will sit down now and do your work efficiently”’.
Ailsa Frank, author and hypnotherapist.
‘With so many fresh opportunities on the horizon, you can feel a bit like a kid in a candy store and end up taking on too much at once. And that ends up being overwhelming, and an ineffective use of time. I know that focusing on projects in priority order will be the best way to deliver client results.
‘I’ve also got a list of my biggest work achievements written down, which I find really helpful to refer to when I need an extra boost of confidence.’
Bettie Moran, outreach team lead at Glass Digital.
8) Start something new
‘January is a notoriously difficult month to stay positive, mainly because it is the mid-point of winter for many of us and it signals the end of any festivities we may have been enjoying. And yet, January can also be the start of so many great new adventures – which is partly why we set out new rules for ourselves each year.
‘My one top tip on how to stay positive is to invest 30 minutes, every day, in doing something new for yourself and your mindset. Imagine having an advent calendar for January 2021 and behind every date is a new and interesting experience. It could be walking a new route, yoga, learning a new language, trying a different recipe, reading something, sewing, baking… The options are endless, but the really important thing is that whatever you do gives you a breather from the everyday remote working routines that you will now be experiencing. Novelty and variety are very important to our motivation and energy levels, and we have been desperately short of them these past months, so actively make time for them in 2021.’
Stuart Duff, head of development at Pearn Kandola.
Ready for an eventual return to the office in this year? Check out 11 ways to mentally prepare for returning to the workplace.
And for trends to plan for, check out our round-up of predictions for PR and communications in 2021 from 13 thought leaders.