We all enjoy a break from work. Whether it’s the holidays, a quick weekend getaway, or a family vacation, these breaks help us to stay refreshed to forge ahead in our daily work lives. But do you ever feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? If you are like me, it can take several days or even a few weeks after a vacation to get into in the swing of things. So how do we overcome this and get back to the grind? Here are a few tips for easing back to work after vacation.

Plan ahead.

Before you leave for a vacation, set yourself up for success. Schedule an out-of-office response for your email account. You may even consider “padding” the date in your response to allow yourself time to get to the most important tasks first. If people aren’t expecting a reply until Tuesday, they won’t be disappointed if you actually get to their message on Monday.

Make a prioritized list of running projects before you leave. When you come back and feel like your brain is fried, you won’t have to think about where you left off.

Leave your work area tidy. An organized workspace allows you to focus clearly without distraction.

Take small bites.

If you face a seemingly insurmountable mountain waiting for you when you return to work, it’s important to approach it systematically. Accept that you will not get caught up by Monday at noon. Evaluate the stack of to-dos and prioritize the top 2 or 3 things you must accomplish first. Then begin chipping away at one thing at a time. Trying to multitask too many things at once drastically lowers productivity and can lead to overwhelm in a heartbeat.

Schedule in some self care.

Go easy on yourself. Acknowledge the post-vacation blues and allow yourself time to readjust. Take a walk during lunch, schedule a yoga or exercise class, or indulge in a soothing bath after work. The point is to do something to pamper yourself as you make the transition back into your work life.

Sleep.

Be prepared by making sure you get adequate rest. If your vacation ends at 10 p.m. on Sunday, don’t expect to be energized at 6 a.m. Monday morning. It’s ideal to resume your regular bedtime and wake up hours a day or two before you actually return to work.

If you work from home or have a lot of flexibility, you may even consider taking a power nap during the day. Set a goal to accomplish a certain amount of work, and reward your progress with a quick snooze. Studies show that napping has so many benefits, from increasing productivity, reducing depression, improving brain function, and helping the body ward off a whole host of illnesses.

Take a meditation break.

Even if you don’t have the luxury of napping during the work day, you can at least spend a few minutes “shutting down”. Find a quiet place or put on your headphones with some calming music and allow your brain to be still. A few minutes of meditation can help combat stress, anxiety, depression, and increase efficiency at work.

Take a grace day.

Ok, this one might not be feasible for everyone. But if you are able to plan your vacation to end a day earlier than you have to actually return to work, it can go a long way to easing your transition. Use your grace day to run errands and rest up before returning full swing. Check your calendar for the week ahead to mentally prepare for meetings and deadlines. Focus on prioritizing and getting into the mindset of going back. 

Delegate.

Look for places where you can ask for help. Offloading some of the smaller, nagging tasks that distract can help you stay focused on the tasks at the top of that priority list.

Allow time for socialization.

Yes, you read that right. When you return for vacation, plan time to reconnect with friends and coworkers that you haven’t seen in a while. Go to lunch or happy hour with a group of coworkers. This study shows that good morale and socialization in the workplace has a direct correlation to job satisfaction and productivity.

To learn more about the importance of sleep and stress reduction, check out this post.


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