I recently had the luxury of skipping town for a little vacation. And, although I only took 3 1/2 days off, I was slammed with things to do and emails to read (300 to be exact) upon my return to the office. I took a real vacation, meaning — I left the computer and blackberry at home, so to no surprise of my own — there was a lot to catch up on when I returned. Getting back into the groove of things was not easy but there were a few things I did to ease this transition, which I’m happy to share with you!
1. Out of Office Reply: Setting an auto responder before you leave takes about a minute and will let your contacts know that you are out of reach, so that they don’t anticipate an immediate response. If you have a colleague who is willing to take care of your urgent inquiries, leave their name and email address in your away message – this will really ensure that your contacts are taken care of should they need immediate assistance. Another benefit of the out of office reply is that it buys you some time upon your return. Most people understand how hard it is to jump back into the swing of things … so they don’t expect a reply immediately. Unless, of course, there’s a project on deadline or an URGENT matter, most people will give you a few days to get caught up. So breathe — read your emails one by one and answer them in order of urgency.
2. Arrive an Hour or Two Early: If you are able get a decent night of rest before the big day back, plan on arriving to work an hour or so before you normally arrive. Usually this is a more quiet time in the office — and should allow for you to make a dent in your “catch up” before people start asking to see pictures and hear stories from your trip.
3. Adjust to Your Time Zone ASAP: If possible, and I say IF because I know that you can’t always control the timing of your flight home and the feeling of jet lag, adjust to your time zone. If you can get your body to catch a few extra zzz’s or stay up a few extra hours to get your body back to your normal time zone, do it. The sooner you can acclimate your body to your natural time zone the easier it will be to get back on track and focus at work. Naturally, this is much easier for domestic travelers. If you are traveling internationally try to schedule an extra day upon your return to sleep. I know this sounds crazy … especially if you just took a week off, but in the end — you will be much more productive when you get back to the office.
4. Make a List: Before you leave, go through your To-Do list, if you have one, and prioritize it according to what MUST be finished before you leave and what can wait until you return. Essentially everything on your list is important and needs to be accomplished, BUT it’s just not humanly possible to get through everything before you leave. Do yourself (and your vacation) a favor and realistically parse your list into before and after tasks. If you stay hyper focused and make a dent in this new list, you will not only have an easier time relaxing during your vacation, but you’ll be prepared and organized for your return.
5. Keep the First Day Back Light: If you can avoid scheduling any big meetings on your first day back this will help a lot. Block out time to get caught up and be sure to revise and re-prioritize your To-Do list as soon as possible. Knowing exactly what is expected of you that first week back should help ease your nerves and help you ease back into working again.
Article Written By, Monique Peltz