Back-to-Work Blues: Tips to Being Productive at Work After a Vacation
Spending time with family and friends, or even just taking some time for yourself is extremely important when trying to balance your home and work life all year round. Summer tends to be a great time to take vacations, but getting back to work after a fun vacation can be difficult. For example, it can be hard coming back to an office chair and emails after spending the last week lying on a beach; that is for certain.
So how do you find your focus and manage distractions upon returning to work after a vacation you’d rather go right back to?
Here are some great tips for getting back to work, overcoming distractions, and managing your day-to-day after a vacation:
1. Plan a Smooth Return
Planning your time off and your return to your regular schedule and work are just as important as planning the actual vacation itself. You don’t want to come back from vacation and instantly have to turn yourself around and head into work without time to unpack, do laundry, go grocery shopping, etc. You also don’t want to come back to work realizing you had forgotten to delegate a specific tasks of yours and find out it never got done.
The pre and post planning process is very important. Make sure you delegate your duties while gone, which also helps make for a smooth return, and make a game plan for getting caught up when you do get back into the office. You might even want to consider taking an extra day off work between your vacation and returning to work so that you can get back on track at home as well.
2. Multi-tasking Really is the Enemy
Whether you’ve been sick or on vacation, coming back to work after time off can be jarring. You may have an inbox full of emails, a laundry list of tasks that need completing, as well as your usual day-to-day tasks that continually need your attention. Your first instinct might be to try and complete them all at once, but all of that multi-tasking could stress you out more.
Take things one step at a time so that you don’t get overwhelmed and so that each task or item receives the time and attention that it needs to ensure that you are doing it correctly and don’t have to redo it later. I would also suggest starting with smaller items on your to-do list that are easy to focus on and easy to check off before moving on to the next.
3. Get Back Into All of Your Routines
A great way to get your mind back in work mode is to get back into your regular home and work routines. Whether it’s going to the gym at your usual time, meeting friends for happy hour on a certain day, or having a certain meal with your family once a week, getting back on schedule in all aspects of your life will make it easier to ease back into work.
4. Mentally Extend Your Vacation
This might seem counter-productive, but it actually helps! Sharing your vacation photos with your co-workers and remembering all of the fun you had on vacation will remind you why you work so hard everyday. You can even have a vacation photo as your desktop background or keep a souvenir on your desk to help you out of feeling so stressed about catching up and give you motivation to work hard towards your next vacation.
5. Keep Things Simple and Stick to a Game Plan
Don’t let the large numbers of new emails in your inbox overwhelm you. Not all 153 new emails need to be answered today. Prioritize by sender and nature and follow up, in detail, with the people who have an immediate demand. For those who don’t, notify them with a quick email that you will soon follow up with them. If you had a project before you left on vacation, take care of finalizing that first, then get to the new stuff. Delegate tasks if you can and utilize online tools and apps to help you get through the week a bit easier. Calendar reminders have always worked wonders for me!
The awful truth is… you do have to come back to work after a vacation sooner or later. Might as well make the best of it! I hope these tips help you as they have also helped me already this summer.