How to bust the post-Christmas back-to-work blues

Back to work blues? We feel ya! [Photo: Getty]
Back to work blues? We feel ya! [Photo: Getty]

Hands up who wanted to lob their phone out the window when the alarm went off this morning? Same.

Sadly, it’s time to face up to the reality that Christmas is over and it’s time to tear yourself away from the chocolate, cheese and day-drinking and head back-to-work. Festive hangover and all.

But while most of us likely have a serious case of the January blues, getting back into the work swing needn’t be as horrendous as you think.

Sure, you’d give your left arm to be sitting in bed finishing off the last of the Quality Street and watching ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ right now, but with a few simple tricks you can ensure that the back-to-work downer is just that little bit sunnier.

You’ve totally got this.

Make the right to-do list

Forgotten your password? Can’t remember how to do your job? We hear you. Getting back into the work routine is tough. Make it a little easier by getting off to a good start.

“Make a to-do list with small daily and weekly goals that you will be able to achieve,” suggests David Brudö, CEO and co-founder at personal development and mental wellbeing app Remente.

“If you take an example from everyday life, such as ‘clean the house’, you may find that you keep putting it off, even though it is not an overly complicated task,” he explains.

“The reason for this is that there isn’t a defined beginning, a plan of action and a concrete end goal in place. Instead, detail which room you want to clean first, which steps you want to take to clean it and where you would like to finish.”

The same strategy can be applied to work assignments, says David.

“Dividing a task into smaller components will prevent you from procrastinating, as well as making the task ahead of you that much more manageable,” he tells us.

Christmas is over and its time to get back to the office [Photo: Getty]
Christmas is over and its time to get back to the office [Photo: Getty]

Try the Eisenhower Matrix

“As you make your to-do list, you will notice that certain things are of higher priority than others and the easiest way to sort them is through the Eisenhower Matrix,” explains David Brüdo. “The Eisenhower Matrix ranks tasks from: Important – Not Urgent, Important and Urgent, Not Important – Not Urgent, Not Important – Urgent.”

David suggests adding in different colours top each section to make it easier to divide.

“Once you’ve done this, assess each section – most of us have a tendency to cram more into the Important and Urgent section than there really needs to be and this section should only be filled with absolute emergencies, such as create client report in time for the deadline,” he continues.

“Important – Not Urgent is a category that you need to carefully prioritise yourself – it might be something important to someone else but not urgent to you. In this case learn how to say no. For example, that you will drop by your colleague’s office when you’ve finished what you are doing, and not straight away.”

“Not Urgent but Important is a category that enables us to succeed with our long-term goals and one that shouldn’t be rushed,” David Brüdo continues.

“Lastly, the Not Urgent and Not Important section is one where most tasks can be cancelled or done very quickly, so on a quieter day of the week, have a look at this section and allot it a specific amount of time to be completed.”


There is nothing more frustrating than having a to-do list that actually doesn’t get done. To avoid your list dragging on with you through the entire afternoon David Brüdo suggests taking time to re-boot around 1 or 2pm.

“Grab a coffee and reassess your to-do list, moving the priorities around accordingly,” he advises. “You will find that this technique means you use your afternoon time wisely and don’t procrastinate because you feel overwhelmed by a long list of things that haven’t been done.”

Bust those back-to-work blues[Photo: Getty]
Bust those back-to-work blues[Photo: Getty]

Increase efficiency

All the fancy festive food and lazy days left you feeling sluggish? Time to switch your focus.

“Feeling a bit slow after the holiday is normal, so the best way to increase your efficiency is to apply the ‘Pareto Law’,” says David Brüdo. “This law finds that by concentrating your efforts on the right things, you will be able to achieve a greater result.

“For example, 20% of your time will get 80% of the work done.”

David says that in order to achieve this we need to look at our to-do lists and identify the areas in which less effort will get the best results.

“Once you have identified these areas, see how many of them are time-sensitive. If you find that one of the areas doesn’t have a deadline – create one for yourself and work against the clock. Not having a definitive deadline will prolong the amount of time you dedicate to a task, so creating deadlines will increase your efficiency.”

Power up your lunchbreak

Sure your lunch break is an opportunity to down tools and switch off, but it’s also an opportunity to boost your energy. David suggests going for a quick walk.

“Download the step counter Movesum to help you count your steps and stay motivated, and you can also switch off and relax for an hour by listing to podcasts – the podcast and audio app Acast offers numerous shows in many different topics.”

Have a desk-over

Coming back to work after the Christmas holidays is the perfect time to step away from your desk and figure out if its making you want to work, relax or even walk away.

“If it’s the latter two, change things around, making your environment geared towards productive work,” David Brüdo suggests. “It is also worth noting that inspiring working environments can lose their effect after a time, so it is important to change things around every so often.”

Note to self: Christmas is over! [Photo: Getty]
Note to self: Christmas is over! [Photo: Getty]

Eliminate distractions

You might have spent the holidays scrolling Instagram, but now that you’re back at work those go-to distractions have got to stop.

“The best way to get back on track is to eliminate the distractions – switch off your phone, mute your email notifications and block the distracting websites for the time that you need to work,” suggests David Brüdo. Social media will still be there when you clock off.

Stay motivated

Going back to work after the Christmas break can feel de-motivating. Time to give yourself a pep talk.

“Dedicate a few minutes a day to writing down, or saying aloud why you are doing well and what you already achieved and what the next goal is – it is difficult to lose motivation when you are motivating yourself on a daily basis,” says David Brüdo.

And relax…

Going back to work doesn’t have to mean bursting those chilled-out crimbo vibes the minute you step foot in the office.

“With hundreds of tried and tested relaxation techniques available, there are guaranteed to be a few that will work well for you, regardless of your location or the reason behind the stress,” says David Brüdo.

“It takes time to find a technique that works for you, but you can experiment with techniques like meditation or breathing exercises or anything else that you like the sound of.” David suggests getting into a good relaxation routine by trying calm-down techniques just before having breakfast or on your lunch break.

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