I Can’t Wait to Go Back to Work!?

Monday, January 13 2014

How many times have you said "I need a vacation after my vacation"? Are you craving a sense of normalcy? Do you miss the routine? Or, are you dreading the post polar-vortex commute? Here are 6 Tips for an easy transition back to work.

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Winter holiday, with its promise of lazy days by the fire, or cozy evenings with a cup of cocoa rarely leaves time for R & R. So many things to do, people to catch up with. Freed from schedules, the afternoon coffee turns into happy hour
toasts and there is little time left-over for sleep.
Whether or not you've been checking your inbox in periodically, the transition back to work after a long holiday isn't always a piece of cake. Even for workaholics.
For many parents, while quality time with children is priceless, coordinating activities for kids full-time can be stressful and tiring.

Regardless, when the vacation period comes to a close, most people need another break to recuperate. 
Whether or not you've been checking your inbox periodically, the transition back to work after a long holiday isn't always a piece of cake. Even for workaholics.

Here are 6 things you can do to keep your holidy cheer as you face reality of the daily grind.

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1. Me time.
Dedicate one day exclusively to resting and catching up with yourself before beginning. If you haven't already scheduled a day-off before you start work, then take a day-off ASAP! It's important not only to catch up on your sleep, but to deal with your personal admin tasks.
You have enough on your plate trying to catch up with all you've missed - why add more? If you can, work from home or half-time a day or two. A 4-day week or 25hr week is easier to swallow.

2. Prepare yourself.

60% of workers polled found it easier to go back to work if they had checked emails while on vacation.


Don't walk blindly into a storm.  
If you have a colleague who returned before you, call them to see what's been going on. Get into your inbox early if you haven't been checking-in during vacation. A recent Harris Poll, shows that 30% of workers polled stay connected via their mobiles while on holiday. While this does little to help disconnect, 60% said it actually made the transition easier.

The benefit of staying connected is that it helps you manage expectations and keep informed on your projects. Your challenge on holiday is learning how to delegate so that you can actually enjoy your time off. After touching base remotely, make an action plan for the first week back. Try making a realistic to-do list of both quick tasks and an overview of longer term projects. Knowing how you'll start your day will make you feel more purposeful once you're there (and result in less of a shock to your system).

3. Take It Easy
Spend time organizing your desk, tasks, emails and agenda before digging in. It's important to ease into things with a bit of perspective. You'll be more effective at problem solving after you've settled in. Delegating will allow you to pay attention to the most pressing tasks.

Don't expect to answer every email your first day back. In fact, focusing on one day at a time instead of your entired workload over the next 3-4 weeks will help you keep your sanity. After a few weeks, check in with yourself and with your boss. Is everything on track? Do you need to develop new competencies?

4. Be invisible
Keep your "out of office" message on until you're really ready to start answering emails and taking on new tasks. Don't schedule meetings just yet. Be unavailable so that you have time to catch up. Take care of the things you left unfinished first.

If you are expected to go through all the emails in your inbox, go somewhere where you will not be disturbed (if possible). Prioritize them, but don't pressure yourself to get through them in one shot. Otherwise, file away those emails; if something is urgent you will be contacted again.

5. Escape
Schedule to go on an outing or a mini-vacation before the month ends. Make dinner plans with friends or family.. Knowing that there's a respite around the bend will help the distance from now to spring or summer vacation go faster (it is only a few months after all).

Day trips are also effective ways to break the routine, and reconnect with your local sights. Many travel agencies report a spike in bookings the first day back-to-work. Try organizing your escape mid-afternoon; this will lighten your mood in the final stretch of the first day.

6. Be Happy.
Think about the cool things you do at work. Reminding yourself of the positive things about your job will put you in a good mood. Being upbeat and stress-free will keep you open to new ideas and help you feel productive.

Have lunch with your colleagues or with a friend who works nearby; eating alone at your desk the first week back is depressing. Post pictures of your holiday to remind yourself it was real and recent. Listen to good music that reminds you of your trip.

Go easy on yourself; it's normal to need some adjustment time. Keep the spirit of vacation alive the rest of the year by maintaining a positive attitude, being grateful for your job, and scheduling frequent breaks in your routine. Summer will come soon enough!

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