Returning to work after a long vacation is like going to the dentist. It was once in the distant future, something in the back of your mind, but now the moment has arrived.
Ok, maybe I am a little dramatic… but getting into work mode after a vacation whether it’s a long weekend or a full-fledged trip to the Bahamas is difficult. First, you have to transition from relaxed mode to work mode. Second, the work probably didn’t stop flooding in just because you were on vacation and now you have a backlog to deal with.
So what’s the best way to manage your first week back?
Just because you have to work does not mean you cannot treat yourself. Start your day with a lavish breakfast (if you’re me, that means chocolate chip pancakes and bacon); plan lunch with a friend or something to look forward to in the evening.
Allowing yourself small treats on your first day or week back will improve your mood and get you through the initial transition from vacation to work mode.
Create a to-do list and update your calendar
I like to do this the night before I return to work, so I am ready to hit the ground running. Sit down and create a list of your priorities for the coming days. What will you have to organize? Who do you need to meet with? It’s essential you’re clear about your priorities while familiarizing yourself with all aspects of your upcoming week.
Putting everything into a shared calendar is a great way for your boss and colleagues to see your agenda and understand what you’re doing to catch up.
Go through your emails and determine which ones are a priority. It’s a good idea to deal with the simple ones the night before, so they don’t weigh on your mind later.
I like to respond to every email even if I cannot do it right away. Acknowledging the email will prevent people chasing you later on, which wastes time and puts you under unnecessary pressure.
Give yourself a window during your first day back where your only job is to manage priority emails.
Talk to your boss
Ask your boss for a meeting on your first day back.
This is useful for two reasons; first, they have probably been picking up the slack while you were away and so it’s crucial they update you on everything you’ve missed and any other developments which may affect you.
Second, it's your chance to update your boss on how you plan to catch up and what is on your agenda that week. It will reassure your boss and ensure they’re aware of your increased workload over the coming days.
Finally, take some time to catch up with your colleagues
You haven’t seen your colleagues for a while, and they’re likely to wonder how your vacation went.
Did you try their recommendations, take pictures, miss anything big at the office? Consistent interruptions by colleagues coming to your desk makes it challenging to be productive. I recommend inviting your colleagues out to lunch that day so you can catch up.
Returning to work after a vacation sucks. There’s no way around it. But if you follow these steps, you can stay organized and ease the transition.