Getting back in the groove after a long break can be a challenge. Regardless of what your time off looked like (birth or adoption of a new child, elder care, illness, or extended travel), re-entry can be challenging. It can take minutes or days to re-adjust to work mode. However, here are some steps that can smooth the path of your return.
Build in a buffer day
Once you establish your return date, factor in 1-2 buffer days. Avoid scheduling clients during this time, but take this time to ease back into your regular work routine and schedule.
Take care of things in your office space, run business-related errands, and gradually make the shift back into work mode. Address any last-minute childcare or elder care arrangements. If your break was due to extended travel, take the time to unpack, do laundry, and ensure everything in your home and office is in complete working order.
Formulate an action plan
Getting back in the groove involves tackling the small stuff first. It might mean notifying clients of your return, re-opening appointment slots on your calendar, and deciding if your first week back will be on a partial or full-time schedule. For example, how many clients do you want to see your first week back? Do you want to onboard any new clients or only see established clients during your first week back?
Notify staff or contractors of any changes in their workload now that you’re back
Catch up on communications
If your time away was extensive or kept you away from emails and texts for a prolonged period, now is the time to dig out from those emails and texts. Keep the autoresponder on for a day or two while you tackle your inbox. Address the most urgent emails first.
Return to routine, but…
If your extended break was due to illness, elder care, or other stressful circumstances, a return to your routine might be what you need, even on re-entry. Return to routine, but with a caveat: block off time each day to either take a break or take care of re-entry tasks. By blocking out an hour or so each day on your scheduling software, your clients will know restricted scheduling will limit your availability for the time being.
Re-assess your priorities
A prolonged absence may mean you return with new responsibilities outside of work: an ill family member, birth or adoption of a child, a significant change in your health status. Even extended travel serves as a good catalyst for re-assessing your business priorities when you return.
Can your schedule accommodate your new responsibilities and priorities? What changes can you make in your business to accommodate them? Was your previous schedule working for you? Is your business as important to you after your break as it was before?
An extended absence can be life-changing. You may even want to share it with your clients and followers in a blog post. Getting back in the groove after a long break is possible. You’ll have a smoother re-entry by following these tips and showing yourself some grace as you re-adjust.