5 Ways to Successfully Get Back to Work After Vacation

It’s always hard to return to work after a long vacation. Whether it’s a 3 day weekend, the winter holidays or a much anticipated summer sabbatical, it always seems to be over as quickly as it started.

Now, the new work week looms ahead. You are on a post-vacation slump. How will you ever get back into the daily grind? Here are some tips to help ease your anxiety about going back to work after vacation.

Get and Keep Your Email in Check

Most of us running businesses are greeted with an overflowing amount of email every day when we get to work. Ok, let’s be realistic. Most of us even check it frequently on our time off so that we aren’t overwhelmed during the work week. For vacation, make sure to set up your out-of-the-office message well ahead of time so that you don’t forget it during the craziness of the last day before vacation. Most email services allow you to pre-schedule these messages. This message can go hand in hand with a plan to briefly scan your email while you’re on vacation. Keep it simple, yet helpful.

Make sure that your out-of-the-office message mentions that you’re away on vacation. However, emergencies happen so if a customer, employee, friend, or family member needs you to respond quickly, instruct them to put something like “EMERGENCY” in the email subject. This message clarification allows you just to scan your emails for anything labeled emergency.

It’s also a good idea to establish in the email another point of contact who can take care of things while you’re are gone. Usually, there is someone you delegate tasks to while you are gone such as the next person in the chain of command. 

When you return home, check your email the night before your first day back to work. Look at the most critical emails first and even draft your responses to them, just don’t send the replies until you arrive at work the next day. Not responding to emails in the evening illustrates your hours of operation and enforces them. This clear delineation of hours is vital for people that work from home. 

Fair warning, you can get lost responding to emails that you missed while on vacation. Decide whether responding to each email is a good use of what little time you have to catch up. Think strategically and only answer time-sensitive emails. Some brave people even check for anything interesting or urgent and then delete everything! Just make sure not delete anything important.

Savor Your Vacation and Bring a Reminder of it Home

All of us feel like we are in the doldrums when we return home from vacation. Bring a souvenir from vacation to work with you. It reminds you that life isn’t just about working, it’s about fun and relaxation too. UC Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky explains in her book, “The Myths of Happiness,” that sometimes just reminiscing about your vacation brings you enormous pleasure.

People naturally want to remember their trips. After a vacation, it’s nice when you get home from that first crazy day of work to settle down after dinner and look through your vacation photos. You may also want to light a candle that reminds you of the place you went. I keep a candle on my desk at home and work with a scent that brings me right back to those happy vacation memories. 

Also, consider what that break from work allowed you to do. The night before you go back to work, learn how to make your favorite vacation drink. Serve it with supper to relive those happy moments on your trip. Change the background on your computer to a picture from vacation or a scene that reminds you of it. Extend that state of happiness you reached on vacation to your life at home.

Plan for Your Return from Vacation

Most of the time people plan out their vacation, but they neglect planning for their return to work. Completing a plan of action takes tremendous stress off of you and saves you time. A plan allows you to focus on achievable goals. It keeps you from wasting time on tasks that don’t further your goals. 

Personally, I have an old-fashioned paper planner that I write everything in. I back this up with reminders that I set in my phone. Planning helps me stay organized and prevents me from missing meetings, appointments, or events. It significantly reduces the stress of coming back from a week or two away.

Give Yourself an Extra Day to Return to Work

It’s common for people to schedule the return from vacation on the day before they go back to work. This late return sets you up for stress and failure. 

Consider coming back a day early so that you have a break between the stress of returning home and getting back to business. Giving yourself an extra day helps you get back into your routine. It allows you to unpack and de-stress from the travel. You can also catch up on chores such as laundry, meal planning, getting the kids settled into a routine, and anything else associated with returning from a vacation.

Taking care of routine tasks gets you organized and prepared for the work week ahead. Make a to-do list in your planner for the day you return to work. Then, simply relax and have some down time to prepare you for the next day.

Ease yourself back into work the day that you return. Take care of any urgent tasks first and the projects that you were working on before you left for vacation. Complete small tasks to boost your confidence and motivate you to tackle the hard jobs after lunch.

One small trick I do is to make a list of the things that I need to accomplish for that day and then cross them off as I go. There is something about crossing things off of my list that makes me feel accomplished.

Plan an Early Start for Your Workday

Prepare to ease into work the next day. Go to bed early the night before work to get a full nights rest. Whether you like it or not, getting up really early the next morning is a great way to prepare you to tackle the day. Some people get up as early as 0400; I’m not one of them. However, even getting up an hour early gives you enough time to go through your morning routine slowly.

Set your coffee to brew nice and early. When you get up knowing that your day is already planned and your coffee is ready, you can actually look forward to your day. If you’re feeling really adventurous, go into work early to tackle the mess on your desk. Just make sure there are copious amounts of coffee somewhere close. 

If you’re still stressed out and can’t sleep the night before that first day back to work, never fear. This article has tips on powering through your day with no sleep

These are just a few tips that make getting back to life after vacation less stressful. With a plan of action, you can focus on the necessary tasks that help you accomplish your goals. You’ll have more rest and time to get back into your routine.

Don’t forget to bring that little piece of vacation with you to work. It will relax you and remind you of those fond vacation memories. Your work colleagues will be envious and want to know how you balance your work and home life so well.

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