Taking time off from work is absolutely necessary especially if you work in a high-stress field like customer service, the military, retail, and the like. Whether you are a call center agent, a soldier, an employee working the typical 9-5 job, or the owner of your own business, taking a leave does not only help in preventing fatigue from workload, but also reinvigorates your energy and creativity, helping you achieve a healthy work-life balance.
However, immersing yourself in too much vacation and thinking how you’d rather feel the sand on your toes than tackle the stacks of paper and emails you miss while you were gone make plunging back to reality a challenge. Relax, you can definitely rewire your brain. Here are 5 ways to get you back in the game after a vacation.
Photo courtesy of Shena Tschofen – Flickr
1. Plan smart for your return.
Most people equate getting ready for a vacation to perusing different travel destinations and mapping out itineraries, but not thinking as much about the work on their return. “You’ve got to set yourself up so there’s the minimum pile-up while you’re gone,” according to Julie Morgenstern, productivity consultant and author of Never Check Email in the Morning.
You need to anticipate the work that will have piled up by the day you return to the office, but at the same time, accept your limitations.
According to Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, “You may be tempted to pile on meetings and projects as soon as you get back to make up for lost time, but a better approach is to stagger the catch-up work over a longer period. At least don’t aim to do it all on the first day.”
It is crucial that you set aside a day for you to get in the zone before you get rattled and overwhelmed by the mad deluge of tasks. Morgenstern suggests, “Build in some transition time. Don’t book anything for your first day in the office, allot the time.”
One handy hack from her is to block off the time in your calendar. “If it looks like you’re available, people are going to put things on your calendar. These are meetings with your to dos,” Morgenstern says.
2. Come home earlier than absolutely necessary.
Vanderkam strongly advises that if you are going away for a week (or two!), there’s a lot to be said for returning Saturday instead of Sunday. You will have the time to unpack and to do the laundry, instead of letting them accumulate, which only adds stress to the already piled-up work you have at work.
You also get to sleep off the jet lag. After all, you will want to come back to work feeling refreshed, not dragged down by a disturbed body clock. You can even manage to sneak in a few hours of work on Sunday night. “Getting a grip on the week’s schedule, and triaging your inbox, can help you feel more on top of things,” Vanderkam says.
Photo courtesy of anaa yoo – Flickr
3. Keep your out-of-office auto reply on—it is your first line of defense.
First off, you should create a straightforward and helpful out-of-office message before you hop on a plane for that vacation. Once you return to work, do yourself a huge favor by leaving it on while you are still catching up, as Vanderkam says. Your colleagues across your workspace see you back, but this will help control external correspondence, or at least set expectations regarding your response.
She and Morgenstern agree that your message for external parties should include who to reach out to instead according to contingencies or when they might expect a response.
It is also okay to indicate that people better follow up, according to Morgenstern. You can include a line saying, “Your message may get lost or buried so please feel free to follow up with me.”
4. Share vacation stories with your co-workers.
According to Globoforce’s 2014 report, “The Effect of Work Relationships on Organizational Culture and Commitment,” employees who have quality relationships with their co-workers are happier and more engaged.
After all, the same report discovered that 78 percent of American employees who work 30 to 50 hours a week spend more time with co-workers than with their families. What is more, Globoforce found out that “73 percent of the employees surveyed have laughed together and 61 percent have cried with a co-worker.”
Michael Crom, executive vice-president at Dale Carnegie Training, an employee and leadership training company, encourages workers going back to work to share anecdotes to their colleagues. “In addition to having that personal interaction at the office to help you enjoy being back, sharing vacation stories will put you in a better mood and help you ease back into a regular work day,” he says.
5. Reward yourself with something to look forward to.
Going back to work can already feel like tremendous work in itself that you just cannot wait for another vacation. Crom says, “Often times the hardest part about coming back to the office is not the large amount of work waiting to be done but the depression of no longer being on a beach or with family or having a vacation to look forward to.”
You may have to wait before you can file for a leave again, but you can definitely plan quick and easy ways to keep the fun vibe that you got from your vacation. Watch the latest episodes of your favorite show with your family. Have a celebratory dinner at a new restaurant with your significant other. Or, to better get you bonded with your co-workers, see if your company has activities meant to promote fun among its employees. More and more businesses realize the value of conducting social events to engage employees, like bowling tournaments, Zumba sessions, happy hours, and even grand parties to hype people up.
It is normal to feel post-vacation blues; you just have to learn how to deal with it. Continue striving to be an indispensable asset in your company and wait for the next time that you can get to file for another vacation. That and keep these tips in mind and you will better reap the fruit of your hard work.