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No matter how much you love your job, getting back into the groove of things after a vacation can be quite challenging, especially if it was an extended holiday. From the backlog of emails to nonstop meetings and events, sometimes your body is at the office while your mind is still enjoying that beach breeze and delicious rum punch.
Even the workaholic of workaholics needs time to decompress and forget the duties of business and boss moves, but the key to staying on top is knowing how to effectively get back in the swing of things after taking time off. Here are a few tips I’ve found to be effective:
1. Use that last vacation day as a “tune out” day. No more margaritas, parties or even phone calls. Take a day off to rebound from the vacation. Relax and enjoy quiet, alone time. Turn in early and get a good night’s rest. If your vacation doesn’t allow for that, at least plan to get in an hour early so you can prep for the next day to work. Don’t wait to sleep on the plane or take that one last hurrah. Trust me: You’ll regret it later.
2. Keep your mood upbeat with great music and a good workout. If you just left the Mexican vacation of your dreams, why not listen to music that is reminiscent of it on your way to work (or even during, if your job permits)? Even better: Combine that with a quick cardio workout. It’ll get the juices flowing, boost your adrenaline and help you rebound from some of the oh-so-delish but not-so-great-for-your-health things you probably indulged in during your vacay.
3. Keep things simple and stick to a game plan. Not all 105 new e-mails need to be answered today. Prioritize by sender and nature, and don’t let the numbers overwhelm you. Follow up, in detail, with people who have an immediate demand, and for those who don’t, notify them with a quick email with you will soon follow up with them. If you had a project leftover from before your vacation, take care of finalizing that first. Then get to the new stuff. Delegate tasks if you can. Use time-management tools and apps to help you get through the week with ease.
4. Leave work for tomorrow. You won’t be able to catch up on everything in one day or even one week. Pace yourself appropriately so you won’t feel totally swamped. For some things, you may need an extension or more time to focus on them. Don’t be afraid to indicate that you’ll need more time to complete at task appropriately. If a deadline is looming, you may have to burn the midnight oil, but if you took that last vacation day to rest, you’ll be thanking yourself.
5. Delegate. Delegate. Delegate. Whether you have an assistant or not, you can still find ways to work smarter and lessen your load. You can utilize virtual assistants or freelancers to help you get reorganized or coordinate with coworkers to get a big project done in less time. If you can’t delegate things at the office, delegate what you can in your household. This also helps lighten the stress of work knowing your house is clean, the laundry is done, your bank statements are balanced and your family is pitching in. And technology is always your friend with this. Apps can help you with project management and delegation as well.