The out of offices have been removed. Coffee is being drunk by the gallon. Colleagues have forgotten each other’s names, and it’s still weeks away from not being pitch black at the end of the working day. As many of us return to our day jobs after the festive period, here are some survival tips and hints.

Relearn all basic skills

It’s a feeling familiar from returning to school after the summer holidays; the complete inability to grip a pen. The worrying fact that you’ve forgotten how to type on a full-sized keyboard. Remembering it’s not OK to wear slippers in meetings.

Returning to work this morning it took me about three minutes to work out how to alter the height of my chair after someone had borrowed it during my time out of the office. I clean couldn’t remember. The only thing in my head at the moment is 14 pages’ worth of Radio Times listings.

Stop dreaming about career changes

I don’t know about anyone else, but coming back to work after the Christmas and New Year period is always the time when far-fetched ideas about relocating to Tahiti and becoming a freelance dolphin trainer start to percolate.

I like my job, I am happy. But I’ve already twice considered the idea of packing it all in and becoming rich off some niche but artisanal product that I would definitely be able to make despite having zero practical skills. So 2016 will be the year I make my fortune.

I’m afraid the sooner we put these flights of fancy aside (along with the improbable target of twice-weekly gym sessions), the easier it will be to settle back into the working routine.

Be selective with ‘Happy new year!’

There should be an amnesty on “Happy new year!” greetings, and inquiries of how people’s festive seasons were spent at around mid-afternoon on the first day most people are back in the office.

It’s not that you don’t care, or that you’re not glad to see colleagues again (most of them), but there are only so many times one can essentially have the same conversation before having to go to the office kitchen and take a quiet minute of refuge. All answers to the question “How was Christmas and new year?” will be the same. Christmas – television, chocolate, family arguments. New year – got way too drunk, waited two hours and 45 minutes for a taxi, woke up at 4pm on New Year’s day with a potential liver problem. Also: don’t care about the resolutions you’re about to break.

Sort out your email inbox

By which I mean: delete your unread emails. Those emails are old, gone. Those emails are literally from last year. Make like Elsa from Frozen, and let it go. Otherwise, by 4pm you’ll still be reading them and you’ll have had to do it all while being half asleep and Googling how to alter the height of office chairs.

Just accept that you will do no work

This morning I set my alarm for the first time in two weeks. (Well, I set 10 alarms, at a series of five-minute intervals.) I have spent all of that period eating, reading books (actual books! I never get a chance to read actual books any more!), watching BBC dramas and petting cats. I’ve had no responsibilities and I haven’t had to use a significant amount of brainpower.

Everyone is knackered today, having trekked back to work under cover of the bleak winter darkness. We’re all on Twitter or catching up on the news we’ve paid no attention to since before Christmas but now realise is super interesting (I’m talking about Simon Danczuk, obviously), or amending all the times we’ve written “2015”. Let’s not be too hard on ourselves if we don’t manage to close any deals/sign any treaties/train any dolphins today, or indeed, the entirety of this week.


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