You aren’t alone if you have ever felt like you have needed a vacation right after your vacation, especially when you have just had the most relaxing, magical, and well-deserved vacation. It can be hard to motivate yourself to throw yourself back into work and think about deadlines, emails, and clients. Unfortunately, all good times must come to an end, and your job can’t be avoided forever.
In fact, that inevitable buildup of work can be so overwhelming that some people might avoid going on vacation. Last year, 55% of Americans didn’t use all of their vacation days, and just a little over half of Americans surveyed plan on taking at least half of their vacation days. This is partially due to the fact that people are afraid that no one else can do their job, and that they will have to return to a mountain of work.
For entrepreneurs and business owners, productivity is crucial. For that reason, the fear of falling behind on work is magnified. Those in leadership positions often feel like they will have to work twice as hard when they return due to the amount of responsibility they carry.
However, the advantages of taking a vacation are undeniable. In fact, they can even help make you more productive when you get back. When you do return, here are a few tips to help your transition from holiday to work go a little bit smoother.
1. Give Yourself a Buffer Day
If it is possible, try to add an extra day at the end of your vacation when you return home and before you go back to work. It might be tempting to spend every possible second somewhere else, but adding that buffer day can do wonders for your morale and productivity. It might seem like it isn’t a good use of a vacation day to spend it at home, but it can give you the chance to catch back up and take your time getting back to your regular speed.
This day could be used for doing all the laundry from the trip, going to the gym to work off those amazing vacation meals, grocery shopping, meal planning, and relaxing to get over a day of travel. While this might not seem like the most fun or glamorous day, it can help clear the added stressors in your life, and allow your brain to focus more fully on work.
2. Ask for an Update Before You Get Back
Before you start blindly answering emails in your full inbox and jumping back into the project, ask your manager or teammates to update you on what happened. Send the email (or schedule it to go out) the day before you get back so you can find out if anything changed while you are gone. Maybe the scope of the project has changed, or a more urgent project has popped up. By asking, you can figure out what you should prioritize when you get back.
3. Don’t Start with Emails
Emails are one of the biggest time wasters in the office, and that is especially true when you get back from vacation. You might have hundreds of emails built up from your vacation time, so it can be really easy to get sucked into your inbox and your desire to clear it out. However, don’t confuse your email activity with real productivity. Only respond to the emails that require a response right now.
4. Start Slow
Even with the buffer day, don’t feel like you have to be going at 150% because you had a vacation. While you might be tempted to start stronger than ever, this might end up hurting you. You might feel like you should work through the first day back non-stop to fully catch up, but that could cause you to stress out, make more mistakes than usual, and ruin your productivity.
Don’t be afraid to take breaks, even if you just came back from vacation. Transition from the relaxing time you had, and help your body and your mind get back into a routine.
5. Revisit your To-Do List
To set yourself up for success, you should leave yourself a list of projects that you have pending. When you get back from vacation, especially if it is an extended trip, you might have missed a lot. Therefore, check out your work calendar to see if there if anything coming up and anything that may have happened while you were gone. You can then revise your to-do list accordingly to make sure that you are taking care of the most pressing things for a stress-free transition.
6. Do something Different the First Day Back
One of the hardest things about coming from vacation is coming back to a routine, with nothing new or exciting. To help keep your spirits high and get your work momentum going, try to do something out of the ordinary. Maybe try to eat at a restaurant that has a cuisine you have wanted to try, or use your buffer day to cook a different recipe.
Or consider trying out a new workout class at the gym, or checking out a tourist attraction after work in your hometown. That way, you can feel like you are still experiencing exciting and unique things, which will help break the routine and keep the excitement of vacation going even when you are at home.
7. Meet Up with Coworkers for Coffee or Happy Hour
One of the best things about going on vacation is reminiscing about it. It is always nice to catch up with your coworkers, especially if you have been missing them for a while. While you shouldn’t be spending too much of your office hours showing photos and talking about your trip, you can use your lunch hour or a coffee break to reminisce with coworkers. Use this conversation to also catch up on any necessary work projects or pertinent information that you might need.
8. Remember to Relax
Don’t be discouraged from taking vacations because of the work buildup. It can be easy to put off the holidays, but remember that they are crucial to your work-life balance. While it might seem like there is too much to do when you get back, make sure to cut yourself some slack, and to remember that you are only human. You can only do so much when you get back, so don’t try to burn yourself out immediately. Take a few deep breaths if you are feeling overwhelmed, continue to practice self-care routines such as meditation, yoga, and working out, and keep your morale high.
Vacations are a great way to take time off of work, refresh, and relax. As mentioned before, there are countless benefits to taking a vacation. However, you don’t want your vacation to usher in a productivity slump. Use these tips to get win back your productivity.
This article was first published in 2019 but has been updated and expanded.