Nine Strategies To Re-Engage At Work After A Vacation

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A vacation week marked on a calendar.My week off was fantastic—thanks for asking! 

If you’re like me, no matter how much you love your job, returning from vacation can be brutal. After a week on a beach somewhere, or in my case, the coastal redwoods of California, the last thing you want to do is return to the daily grind. Last night my eyes hurt from staring at a computer monitor for the first time in a week and I just wanted to crawl into a hole—or perhaps go back on vacation.

Enter the reality check. Assuming you’re like me and you enjoyed your job before you went on vacation, you may simply need a strategy for re-entering the workplace. As I reflected on my first day back, I came up with a list of strategies for future vacations.

  1. Take Time to Learn:  Read a book or do something inspiring while you are on vacation. Choose something that will get the creative juices flowing and help you do life and work better. I’m currently enthralled with the Steve Jobs biography.
  2. Enjoy Your Time Off:  Vacation is there for you to unplug, relax and get out of the routine. Take advantage of it and don’t feel guilty!
  3. Mark Your Next Vacation on the Calendar:  Begin planning your next vacation. Treat it as you would any goal that you strive towards.  Sometimes the lure of another trip on the horizon will serve as motivation.
  4. Make a To-do List:  Before returning to the office, make a short list of what you want to accomplish that first day back. Without a doubt, you will get hit with the unexpected on your return, but a list can keep you on track and help you feel like you accomplished something.
  5. Exercise:  Working out is a great way to reflect on your trip and prepare your mind for the coming week.
  6. Start with Relationships:  Arriving back at the office, take a few moments to catch up with your coworkers. You may find it energizing to know that you were missed and some will be genuinely interested in your trip.
  7. Ease into Your Inbox: Don’t try to conquer hundreds of emails in one day. Set aside an hour or two to work on it, and focus mostly on low-hanging fruit and any large issues that deserve immediate attention. The rest can wait for you to catch your breath.
  8. Don’t Expect to Get Caught Up Right Away: Don’t negate the good work you did de-stressing on your vacation. Set reasonable expectations and don’t heap a bunch of pressure on yourself to get everything done immediately.
  9. Plan Something Fun After Work: After that first day back to work, treat yourself to something fun. For me, it was coaching my son’s tee-ball game.

How do you return to work after a dream vacation? Leave us a comment with some of your own tips. As we approach the summer time, I wish you happy travels—and returns!