It’s back to work and school for everyone after vacation and the holiday week and I know we’re all feeling:
BUT – we don’t have to feel that way! Really! Don’t abandon me! I’m here to help!
Ok, seriously, there are some tips that I have been using when I come back to my regular day job to make my transition back to real life and they work to help me jump right into my day. I especially needed these tips when I returned after maternity leave. And, Lord help me if I ever take another three months off!
Let me know below if you’ve got your own tips or if you try any of these.
Have a plan
- Unless you want to have a panic attack on your first day, take some time first thing in the morning to make a plan. This transition time should be noted on your calendar so that no one can take up this time. By writing everything down and getting it all out of your head you can feel free! Free, knowing that you won’t forget anything, you can see everything there is to do all in front of you, and can focus on crossing tasks off as you complete them. Bonus points if you allocate the amount of time it will take to complete each task. If you block out 15 minutes for one task and 2 hours for another, you can check off any small hanging fruit first, or plan to leave those for the end of the day – whichever works for you!
Catch up with your co-workers
- No, I’m not suggesting that you immediately take a 3 hour coffee break to discuss your trip. While a little debrief might be nice to build camaraderie with your co-workers, I’m suggesting that you find out what you missed. Does your supervisor have any project updates? Are there any major changes to the work that you are responsible for? Did anything get completed while you were out and do you need to move to the next step?
Do not start anything new if possible
- I realize that the new year or after feeling refreshed you can feel ready to jump into new project, new habits, new systems – but try to hold off! There may be some tasks that you forgot about while laying on the beach thinking of how streamlined your life should be – and this could make it hard to implement new challenges. Also, the body goes through natural stress while traveling, sitting on a plane or in a car, going through time zones, eating different foods, so give yourself a little break.
Try not to daydream
- When I’m feeling distracted I like to play a little game. I block off a few hours and see how much work I can get done, then I allow myself to take a break. Whether that is a walk around campus outside, a quick chat with a friend, spending 10 minutes reading my favorite blog, or whatever – I allow my mind to wander. Then I am ready to jump back into the heavy work and plug ahead again before my next mental break.
Don’t expect too much
- I’m not usually a proponent of lowering my expectations, but for the first day back after a vacation I try to give myself a little leeway and set realistic expectations and goals that are truly attainable.
Also, for the next time you’re planning a vacation, for example Christmas vacation, try these before you leave:
- Set up a buffer day
- Delegate work that has to be done while you are out
- Clean your desk and inbox
- Write yourself a note with priorities so you don’t have to think about it when you return
The back to work blues are not real – you can do it with a smile! So, this next time returning to work, try it with no stress and enjoy your life even after leaving the cozyness of family or that dreamy vacation spot.