Back to Work After the Holidays Without the Overwhelm

Posted in vacation / staff team

Back to Work After the Holidays Without the Overwhelm

The holidays are over. If you haven’t returned to the usual work week, that will likely be happening very soon. Its no fun when the holidays come to an end. Navigating those first few days back after a holiday can be a little depressing and a lot overwhelming, with all the paperwork, emails, and, well, working.

Trying to get back to work at the same full pace you had when you left for holidays, will leave you feeling exhausted and questioning your own abilities to do the job. You know you can do this work; you’ve been doing it, and you were doing it when you stepped away for holidays. But every year it seems to take a few days of awkwardness before you can back into the swing of things.

The first day, or first few days, don’t have to be wasted while you get your sea legs back, and can balance on the moving ship that is your non-profit’s day to day operations. Here are a handful of ideas to help you tackle the mountains of mail, and questions from your team, who are very likely feeling a little unbalanced themselves. 

Take It Slow

You don’t need to start day one with perfect form. Take it easy. Ease back into your work rhythm. Only true emergencies jump the queue. For everything else, tell yourself you are going slowly.

Send Only One Email, To Start

A quick email to your team is a positive place to start and can set a nice, cheery, tone for the week ahead. Keep it short. A few lines to say Happy New Year, welcome back, and acknowledge it will take a couple days for everyone to get back up to speed while emails bounce back and forth and everyone gets caught up.

Sort the Paper Mail

There is something cathartic about opening traditional mail. It doesn’t have the same demand for attention that email brings. The low-stress job of opening, and sorting into categories, will ease your mind back into thinking about work, but gently.

Snack Break

Bring a little of the holidays with you to work. Whether it’s a little eggnog spice in your coffee or a couple of shortbread cookies for a snack, making time to stop mid-morning for the first few days, helps keep the pace relaxed. You can increase the intensity in a day or two.

Go Calmly into the Email Abyss

The nice thing about the December holiday, is that many other people take holidays as well. So, emails overall, tend to slow down. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be email-free. Use the same mindset for your email, that you used for opening your regular mail. Take a relaxed pace, go slow, and respond to only the quick wins. Delete as much as you can as you go. Scan the rest, make notes if you need them, but leave the longer tasks for later.

Schedule the Next Few Days

By now you should start to feel like you are getting some of your groove back. Now, you’ll be in a much better place to check your calendar and start to plan out your next few days. Schedule those major tasks that started to come up from all the activities so far. Look through your calendar to check for meetings and other commitments, then build out a plan for the next few days.

Easing gently back into your work tasks has another benefit. It helps to keep work and home balanced. Protect that recharging you got over the holidays. Keep those first few workdays relaxed and fun, so you’ll get home at the end of the workday feeling positive and energized. Let’s avoid as much stress as we can in 2022!

Here’s a quick recap of the steps you can take to go back to work after the holidays without the overwhelm.

  1. Take it slow.
  2. Start day one with only one email, to say Happy New Year to your team.
  3. Sort the paper mail or do another very simple task.
  4. Bring a few special treats to extend that holiday feeling.
  5. Ease into email with quick wins first, and everything else planned for the next few days.
  6. Close out day one with a plan for the task you’ll handle the rest of the week.

There is no need to lose all that holiday rejuvenation. With some simple steps, a relaxed mindset, and a plan, you can get back to work without the overwhelm.

If you know someone who would find these ideas valuable, would you do me a favour? Grab the link and share it with them.  Let’s work together to make the work of a non-profit Executive Director a little easier.



Hi, I'm Christie Saas, former board member, current Executive Director, and non-profit volunteer. I remember well, those early years when I lacked the training, the confidence, and the work-life balance to focus on becoming the best non-profit leader I could be.

Fast-forward past many bumps in the road, lessons learned, and you’ll find me still in the trenches, but a little wiser, a little calmer, and a whole lot happier. I love my work and I want to help you love yours too.

I created to give you tools, tips, and templates to remove the mystery of learning to run a small non-profit. If you’re a brand-new non-profit leader, or a little more seasoned, someone who’s looking to make a meaningful contribution and still have time for a full life away from the job, you’re in the right place.

© Christie Saas 2022 All Rights Reserved

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