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Getting back to work after an unplanned absence



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Having been away on unexpected hospitalisation leave recently, Jerene Ang puts together some tips to make it easier to get back into the flow at work.

It’s no surprise that getting back to work after a long weekend or a holiday period can be tough. After all, it’s difficult to calibrate back into the flow of work when you’ve just gotten back from some exotic vacation and are still suffering jet lag.

It’s just as hard to get back into the flow of work after an unplanned absence such as emergency leave, hospitalisation leave or an extended period of medical leave. In fact, it may be even more difficult to do so since things such as emergency leave and hospitalisation leave tend to be unforeseen.

With the unexpected nature of these absences, it’s impossible to plan ahead and you’ll likely be left playing the catch-up game – clearing a backlog of emails while trying to meet the deadlines that have crept up while you’re away.

Having been away for about a week of hospitalisation leave recently, I got to experience this first-hand. While I hope none of you will have to face this scenario, I put together some tips on how you can get yourself back into the flow at work in case it happens.

Realise it’s not possible to get into the flow overnight

You might be tempted to jump right back into things and clear all the backlog of emails while attempting to meet all the deadlines that have crept up along the way. Perhaps this is possible if you’re gone for one to two days.

However, if you’re out of action for about a week, faced with upwards of 200 emails and a deadline approaching in the next few days, it’s likely  to take more than a day. The faster you come to this realisation, the earlier you can put in place the following action plan.

1. Prioritise your work

Take 15 to 30 minutes to have a look at what you need to do, make a checklist and prioritise your work. Respond to urgent emails first and complete what needs to be submitted soon.

2. Set aside some time every day to clear the backlog

While focused on the high-priority work, don’t forget that the backlog will keep piling up if it’s not cleared. So, set aside some time every day to clear that backlog. One to two hours per day is a good amount of time to keep aside for this.

ALSO READ: At what time of the day do employees complete the most tasks?

3. Don’t hesitate to ask your colleagues for support

There’s no doubt you will be able to clear everything yourself, but two heads are always better than one. So, reach out for your colleagues for support. At worst, they will say no – which is fine and understandable. If your team is anything like the Human Resources team, they will agree to help and you can thank them by buying them lunch or coffee.

Photo / 123RF

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