After hanging by the shore and soaking in the sun, the last thing you want to think about is work. But as much as you would like your vacation to last forever, it's time to come back to reality and figure out ways to get back to work after your vacation. Ideally, before you head out to your vacation, you want to make sure everything is good to go: you've communicated with everyone, turned on your OOO (out-of-office) responder, and tied up any loose ends from projects or assignments. While those things are important, it's just as vital to set up a plan for when you return.
According to POPSUGAR, during the first couple of days back in the office, it's best to rekindle with old tasks first and catch up with what you've missed. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, tackle newer assignments on a later date when you feel a little bit more prepared and settled. Even if you're a type-A person, it can be easy to feel mentally exhausted from the pile of work that you've returned to. But as long as you take your time, conquer one thing at a time, and schedule yourself some breaks in between, you can slowly return into your work routine sooner than you think. About to head out on vacation and want to know what you need to do after you return? Here are 11 tips to help you settle back into your job after your vacation.
1. Return One Day Early
While you might want that extra day to hang out by the beach, it might be a better idea to return one day earlier to get situated before you head back into the office. According to Fast Company, author of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time Laura Vanderkam said, "If you’re going away for a week (or two!), there’s a lot to be said for returning Saturday instead of Sunday. Not only do you get a chance to unpack, catch up on the laundry, and sleep off jet-lag, you can do a few hours of work on Sunday night."
2. Turn On Your Out-Of-Office Responder Before You Leave
Out-of-office responders are lifesavers. They will notify people that you're not at work, so when you return, you won't feel overwhelmed with angry emails. "The best way to piss someone off who's trying to get in touch with you is to leave their email unattended to. Clearly state how long you'll be out and who they can contact for their immediate needs," says career coach Kim Wensel in an interview with Bustle over email.
3. Don't Try To Tackle Your Work all At Once
"Sure, there's going to be a lot to do, but you won't be able to do it all in the first day back. Map out the one to two things you must get done each day and you'll feel much better than trying to get to everything on day one," says Wensel. Rather than feeling overwhelmed with your workload, take one step at a time with your assignments. Also, make sure to schedule your meetings the second day you're in the office, so you don't go crazy, cry, and then runaway from all your responsibilities.
4. Resume Your Routine
It can be hard to get back into the routine of things when you first return to work. After a day or so, your natural work rhythm can fall back into place and you can start to feel productive again. "Feeling productive is all about getting back in the groove. Have your morning coffee and enjoy your lunch away from your desk. These simple things will help make the transition back a lot more enjoyable," says Wensel.
5. Clean & Prioritize Your Inbox
Even though you want to pull your hair out while you're trying to answer all of your emails, figure out a system to answer the most important ones first and then return to the others later. "Resist the urge to read and respond. You may return to 200 emails, but not all of them will require responses. Start with the emails sent right after you left for vacation and end with those most recently received. That way you'll track responses or updates to topics or issues that may have already been settled in the time you were gone," says Wensel.
6. Create A To-Do List
"These are things that you know need to get done when you return. As you're making the list, things may come up that have to be done before you return. Identify these and ask for help from your teammates or manager. Don't just assume they can wait because you'll be out," says Wensel. If you really want to be an overachiever (of course you do), try creating your to-do list the day before you head into the office. It can organize your thoughts and make you feel more prepared when you go to work.
7. Schedule Contingency Time In Your Schedule
Don't feel guilty if you want a little break every now and then. Let your mind adjust back to reality by scheduling a few breaks on your calendar so no one bothers you. "Make sure to schedule contingency time in your schedule to act as a buffer for the unexpected that first week back too," says career & business coach Rachel Ritlop in an interview with Bustle over email.
8. Embrace The Post-Vacation Blues
"You know the ones, you've just had a great vacation, and you're back in the office feeling refreshed, sit down with your cup of joe to check your emails, and you have a scathing one at the top of your inbox! All of the sudden the sadness kicks in and you start imaging going full on Office Space on your computer (anyone remember that scene in the movie?) while quitting," says Ritlop. "Instead, be prepared that you are going to get some side eye when you get back, and plan to have a little extra self care those first few days. Whether it's bringing a candle that smells like your vacation, going to yoga after work, or scheduling a massage for the end of the week to look forward to." While it's completely natural to feel sad that your vacation is over, it's important to remember that there can always be another one in the future.
9. Strategize Your Tasks
"Try to strategize your first few days back by looking at tasks you can quickly check off your 'to-do' list. This way you can start feeling good about how much you are accomplishing in a short period of time, and mentally will be prepared for some heavier lifting in the workplace," says Ritlop. Whether you decide to tackle the easiest or the hardest tasks first, remember to stick to a routine that works for you, so you don't feel like you've wasted away your day.
10. Stay Hydrated & Drink Caffeine
Usually, the first day is the hardest. While you still might be on a vacation high from your wonderful adventure, you might feel tired and grumpy because of jet-lag. Stay hydrated with tea, water, or coffee to help keep you alert while you're getting back into the groove of things. "There are many herbs and teas that can help both to sharpen mental acuity and increase focus — and when consumed as teas, you can reap those benefits," says ALOHA's nutrition director Jillian Tuchman. "Oolong tea, like the Energy Tea, for example, is known to revitalize mental alertness. Similarly, schizandra berry is known to enhance concentration, memory and alertness — and because it has a dual-directional function, it can act as a mild stimulant when you're feeling sluggish and also work as a mild sedative to calm nervousness or anxiety."
11. Get A Good Night's Rest
The last thing you want to do is feel anxious because your workload is overwhelming. Make sure you're getting a good night's rest so you can wake up feeling refresh before you head into work. If you're having trouble sleeping, feel free to drink some tea or mediate to help slow things down. It might take a while to get back into the routine of things, but with patience and time, it can happen. "The ritual of drinking something warm before bed is a great addition to anyone's sleep routine. Choosing a tea, like the Sleep Tea, for example, contains herbs with calming properties—like lemon balm which is shown to promote more restful sleep, while its aroma is known to calm the mind—is even better," says Tuchman.
Don't feel flustered the minute you head back into the office. With a little bit of prep and a lot of coffee, you can get back into the routine of things in no time.