Back to Work: How to Cope

Back to Work: How to Cope

Back to Work: How to Cope

We all know the feeling. Sunday, late afternoon, around 5 or 6pm, or just after your evening meal. The feeling of a relaxing, enjoyable weekend just as it’s slipping away, and your mind starts to fill with thoughts of the workweek ahead. Unanswered emails, difficult meetings, a to-do list that can never be completed… The Sunday Fear is real.
An office meeting
This unfortunate feeling is familiar to many, and can somewhat sour an otherwise enjoyable break from the office. Something about the time away from your desk makes returning all the more daunting. This too applies to taking time off on holiday, but multiplied - once you’ve been gone a week or two, who even knows what awaits you on return? Or perhaps you’ve been out of the office for months - for some it’s been well over a year - and are only now heading back in to physically see and spend time with your colleagues. After such a long period of home-working and isolation, it’s little wonder that many are feeling The Fear right now.

Considering the past 18 months, we all deserve to be patient and kind with ourselves, and not let ourselves get overwhelmed. For many, returning to the office after time away presents challenges, anxieties and stresses that we simply don’t want to have to face up to. So take your time, take it slow, and make sure you’re in the best and most robust headspace you can be, to allow for the smoothest of transitions back to the workplace. Here are some suggestions on how to make the process as easy and peaceful as possible.

Practice Positivity

Negative thoughts and feelings are very attractive to the anxious mind. It’s easy to let them take hold and begin to snowball, growing out of all proportion before we’ve even realised. Try to notice these thoughts early, and see if you can reframe them in a new positive light.

For example, instead of focusing on all the things at work you feel you struggle with, take some time to consider everything that you know you do well, and the elements of your job you’re good at. If you find yourself getting hung up on the negative aspects of your job, take stock of each of the positives and the things you enjoy - a treasured colleague you’ve missed, a project you’re keen to sink your teeth back into, or even a favourite lunch spot or coffee shop that you can enjoy revisiting. It may seem small, but proactively taking on a more positive mindset can make a huge difference.

Personalise your Space

A desk filled with personal touches A recent study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that people performed markedly better in their jobs when working in more personal and individualised environments. Simple things like holiday photos, postcards, houseplants and ornaments all have a big impact on your mood.

Additionally, natural light has long been known to have a positive influence on energy levels and concentration - wherever possible, try to position yourself away from fluorescent lighting and nearer to a window to the outside world.


Returning to the workplace with fresh eyes and a new perspective presents the perfect opportunity for a proper decluttering. Stacks of old paperwork? File them away, or chuck them straight in the recycling. Unable to find what you need in your drawers? Empty them out and reorganise them. Old files you saved to your desktop for convenience? Delete them or drop them into the appropriate folders. Lay the groundwork for a clear head; start with a clear desk.

Book a Meeting with your Inbox

A man writing emails on his laptop whilst reading something on his phone

Overcoming an endlessly expanding inbox can become something of a Sisyphean task, and chipping away at it bit by bit throughout the day is often not quite enough. To overcome any build-up while you’ve been away, block out some time in your diary for a proper one-to-one with your inbox. Roll up your sleeves, set your status to “DO NOT DISTURB”, and get to work - an hour each day until you’re back on top of them and can enjoy a real sense of achievement and satisfaction. It’s unglamorous work, but worth it in the end!

Prioritise and Set Goals

There are a finite number of hours in a week, and therefore a finite number of tasks you’re able to achieve. So start each week with a quick list of headline priorities. What are the most important things that need to be achieved? Write them down in whichever way you prefer - three tiers of priority, perhaps, or simply giving yourself 5 headline goals for the week. Now you know where to focus your energy, while also making sure you don’t get too caught up sweating the small stuff.

Make Time for Yourself

Just because you’ve had lots of time off work or away from the office over the past 18 months, doesn’t mean it’s all been relaxing or restful. Yet many people are feeling the pressure to stay later, take on more, and generally overwork to make up for lost time. The fact remains that not only is overworking unpleasant, it’s also unsustainable, and can result in lower productivity longer term. Remember to be kind to yourself - take plenty of breaks, get out of the office for lunch, set realistic goals and feel free to leave on time. Don’t listen to the judgemental voices in your head - you deserve to be good to yourself.

Get Organised

It’s very tempting to just bury your head in the sand in the days before you go back in, but if you truly want to make sure you ease back in gently, it’s best to get ahead of things. Prepare your lunches for the coming days in advance; pack your bag or briefcase and leave it by the front door; choose and lay out your clothes the night before. Each and every little thing you do for yourself will allow for a smooth and simple transition back to the office.

What to Pack

The Corporate Office

A Letts Connoisseur diary is the perfect thing to help you get organised and stay on top of everything in the coming year.

Alternatively, the Sorrento Large Refillable Leather Journal is a great-looking no-frills design, refillable with different inserts for maximum sustainability and versatility.

For writing, try the Sheaffer Prelude in cobalt blue with rose gold trim for a pen that makes a statement without being ostentatious; or if you prefer a fountain nib, the Cross Townsend is a superbly crafted pen with a satisfying weight that feels great in the hand and writes like a dream - a favourite among a number of US presidents so you know you’re in good company with this one!


The Creative Office

A fresh new notebook and something to write with are definite must-haves - try pairing a Leuchtturm1917 hard-cover notebook with a Caran d’Ache 849 clutch pencil (made from recycled Nespresso pods!) to inject a bit of colour and creative flair into your workplace.

If pencils aren’t your thing, try the TWSBI ECO for an excellently crafted and visually striking fountain pen at a remarkably affordable price; or, for something multifunctional, Cross’s Tech3+ lets you rotate between black ballpoint, red ballpoint and pencil with just a twist of the barrel.

Whatever your work situation - whether you’re back after a brief holiday, a year of home working, or have been heading into the office day-in day-out come what may - remember to be kind to yourself and to others after the year we’ve had. Getting organised in advance can feel like a daunting task but will undoubtedly make life easier in the long-run, so try your best not to put things off till later. Finally, make sure to enjoy the things you’ve missed, and make the most of each day with renewed perspective after your time away. It’s the littlest things that can make the biggest difference, so be sure to appreciate each and every one.