Have you ever felt sluggish returning to work after a break? This was me on my first Monday morning back after two and a half weeks off. Sitting at my desk, feeling strange to be in smart trousers and a shirt again, I found it very difficult to focus and kick my brain into gear. In the following days, I found myself getting overwhelmed by my workload, I tried to multi-task (and failed) and wasn’t handling interruptions or distractions effectively. I started to omit important details, I forgot to do things, and often I quickly lost focus. Whether you’ve just returned from a holiday, maternity leave or sick leave, we can all struggle adjusting. But by adopting an ‘accuracy mindset’ and being ‘present-minded’, you can prevent errors from causing problems and stay stress-free at work.
Before beginning to tackle that overflowing inbox, re-focus with a simple, quick exercise. Every month, we publish a fun, free seasonally themed accuracy test to help you get back into ‘super-concentration’ mode. The activity measures your accuracy and checking skills. By immersing yourself in a three-minute challenge like this, you’ll remind yourself of the importance of proactively checking for mistakes and getting every detail right. Head over to our home page where you can download the current Summer-themed test and subscribe to get the tests delivered straight to your inbox each month. Why not set time aside once a month to challenge yourself and your team? They are a super quick, super effective way to re-set the brain.
Suffice to say, a lot happens while you are away, so take the time to get clued up. Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues and boss questions. They probably forwarded you emails to outline new projects or meetings that were held in your absence, so have assumed you already know, but things can easily get lost in translation or forgotten. Avoid problems caused by mis-communication and don’t make the wrong call because you haven’t properly understood. Scheduling a meeting with your boss for your return will help - but only if you come prepared and ready to ask the right questions. A smooth transition where you are fully aware of the greater context of your work will reduce the potential for mistakes.
You’ve just been on a break, but this doesn’t mean you should stop allowing your mind to rest every so often. Taking regular, short breaks throughout the day improves your efficiency and productivity. When we concentrate for long periods without stopping, our mind tends to wander, we get easily distracted and we lose focus. I like to make a pact with my colleague, so we remind each other to stand up and move away from our desks. Your eyes will thank you for it too. Taking short breaks, where you can stretch your legs or flex your fingers, means you’re less likely to misjudge situations or make mistakes. I know every time I return to my desk from a break, I feel calmer and clearer about my priorities.
You determine how productive you are in your first week back after a break. These tips apply even after very short breaks, like weekends, so why not use them next Monday morning? It’s the perfect time to re-set your mind for an accurate and stress-free working week.
About Accuracy Skills
It’s important we get our work right first time, even after a break, so why not attend our open workshop One-day Accuracy Skills in London on 4th September 2018? If you want to improve your attention to detail, guard against stress as a cause of error, check documents properly and not forget to do things, this participative programme is for you. Sign up now by clicking here.
We also have in-house training programmes, Developing an Eye for Accuracy (about reducing data error) and Preventing Mistakes at Work (about reducing human error), perfect for larger groups who want to work more accurately and efficiently.
Other Recent Posts
Even the best of us can improve what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Small incremental improvements to our ways of working, lead to big benefits over time. Start by conducting an audit of your regular tasks. Take a good hard look at the things you do and ask yourself if there are any improvements you can make to the way you do them. Identify small changes which, if consistently applied, will deliver significant productivity gains and improved results. It’s easy for things to slide if you don’t do this. Whilst a one per cent improvement delivers big benefits over weeks and months, a one per cent decline ends with catastrophic results!
Innovation and creative thinking. People development programmes often include modules on these topics. But even if your organisation proactively encourages people to generate new ideas, what sort of hearing do those ideas get? And how can we, as innovative thinkers, make sure our proposals are properly considered?
How often do you feel stressed at work? Every day? Once a week? Maybe if you’re lucky just once in a blue moon? At one time or another you will have felt stressed at work. It might be because you’re late for a meeting or you’re feeling unwell. Or it might be because of the most common reason: the belief that you have too much to do.
Experts are people with a special, superior skill or knowledge in a particular field. We need them. In all areas of life, and business, experts have a vital role to play. But when it comes to managing someone in your team who knows more than you do, it can be daunting. Whether he or she is a subject matter expert, or simply has much more relevant experience or know-how, managing ‘an expert’ can feel awkward. This short article explores how to get the best from people with greater knowledge or expertise.
‘Lessons will be learned’ is an often-repeated phrase trotted out by government ministers and heads of organisations when things have gone dreadfully wrong. In this short article we explore the importance of action rather than words in developing a genuinely blame-free working environment, where people are open about making, correcting and sharing the learning from their mistakes.