Back from vacation

Two things we all know:

“I don’t even want to know how many emails there will be in my inbox when I get back from vacation”

“I’m already overwhelmed thinking of the work that needs to be done when I go back to the office on Monday”

Coming back after a serious break from work, creates feelings of stress for many people when simply even thinking of going back to the office. Although carefully tucked away in the back of our minds, or forcefully kept there during our absence, once we return, our brains open the flood gates to the many things we left behind a few weeks ago. This can be a very overwhelming feeling, sometimes to the extent that it prevents people from taking a break at all.

“I don’t really see the point of going away for two weeks”, Jack said. “I prefer long weekends, simply because the work won’t pile up as much.  – Jack S., Program Manager at an international organization.

But here we are, our summer break is ending and work is around the corner, breathing in our necks.  So, what can you do to make the best start possible, and avoid getting lost in your inbox and the thousand things you already know will be on your plate.

1. Starting Early

Vacation mode can seriously ruin your workday rhythm. We often sleep late and sleep in longer. We take it easy when waking up because we don’t have to rush anywhere. To make life easier for yourself, go to bed early the last two nights before going back to work so your body and mind adapt to what’s coming. On the day you go back to work, you will feel fresh when getting up early. Being early in the office will give you the time to start the day before the office fills up with people and tasks. Coffee first.

2. Focus

Social Media, newspapers, friends, colleagues. There are so many things to read, do and say when you return from vacation. Yet for everything there is a time and place. Getting back to work is most effective and certainly most satisfying if you do so with a focused and productive mind. Turn Off the Noise!

“Focus is so important because it is the gateway to all thinking: perception, memory, learning, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. Without good focus, all aspects of your ability to think will suffer”. – Dr. J. Taylor, University of San Francisco

3. Don’t Overstretch Yourself

Although it is tempting to fill your first day back at work with meetings and new deadlines, try to plan an open calendar that allows you to catch up with what is really important and prevent overwhelm. Take a few minutes to strategize and prioritize your day and ask yourself: What do I really want to know and what do I really want to check in about? Understanding what is truly important will save you a lot of time!

4. Catch up!

Don’t forget that while you were away, others were still around. The workplace didn’t turn upside down and generally, people know what went on and what the important things were during your absence. So get connected and communicate! What happened, what changed and what is important to know!

5. Don’t fall into the Inbox Trap

Ohhh, how easy it is to get lost in the hundreds of emails waiting for you, and how deep can you get lost replying? It is a never-ending downward spiral. Before you even click on that email icon, ask yourself what your email goal is today. What are the most important subjects to catch up on, today? What is urgent, and what can wait? How much time will you spend on your email today for it to be productive and not just actively emailing because your brain tells you that’s what you should do? Have a plan!

“A culture of always being available (by email) can have a devastating impact on stress levels, work-life balance and job performance.” – Matthew Reisz, reporter, Times Higher Education 

6. Touch Base

Planning short catch-ups with your boss, team and clients/customers is a quick way of getting back in touch with everyone and knowing what’s happened during your away time. It also provides you with an opportunity to quickly get onto the same page about current priorities. Keep in mind: Fast & Focused!

7. Take a Break

Yes, you should. Because we all know how that goes when going back to work. We start running as if we are catching up for all the hours we have missed. Big No-No. The sooner you establish a healthy routine, the better you will perform and the less stressed you will feel on the short and long run. Take that lunch break and have a chat with your colleagues about their vacation and yours, have that coffee moment and think of something else than work. You just came back from recharging your batteries. Checking out of work for a few minutes and into something inspirational, keeps your mind healthy and balanced.

How are you going back to work?


Struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance? Take your chance and plan a free discovery session with Minou Hexspoor – The Nomad Coach

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