You’ve been away from work for the past few weeks. You are having the time of your life, exploring nature with only your wonderful self for company. A little worry lingers at the back of your mind. You wash it down with an expensive cocktail as you lounge on sun-kissed sand. You wish the days of peace will never end but you know that they will.
Your vacation may be less exquisite but equally fun. Imagine leaving all that behind to dive back into the monotone of memos, meetings, and management. That’s why most people dread heading back to the office after a holiday. Behind is lots of relaxation and ahead is a mountain of work.
Despite that, return you must. After all, the next vacation won’t pay for itself. You can feel your stress levels spiking as the day draws nearer.
It’s okay to feel a little sad about going back to work after a vacation. Prolonged dread at the prospect of reacquainting yourself with paperwork and schedules is something else. Crawling back into your work cubicle already worn out would be counterproductive. And, as you know, stress is bad for business.
10 Tips for Going Back to Work After a Vacation
You may wonder, “How do I restart after vacation?” If you’re struggling to reorient yourself after your break ends, the tips here should help ease the transition.
1. Have the Right Mindset About Work
How people deal with going back to work can reflect how they perceive their occupation. Some regard work solely as an avenue to make money. If you think this way, you’re not going to be rejoicing when it’s time to return after a vacation.
It helps to regard what you’re doing as an activity that’s beneficial to yourself and humankind. Remember your happy and satisfied clients and let that thought ginger you into action. Cultivating positive feelings towards your job will help you rouse yourself up from an extended lie-in. Even if it isn’t your dream job, many people rely on you to get it done and on time. That should motivate you when you’re back at the office.
Now, if it’s your dream job, then the equation is simple. If you’re doing something you love, you don’t need extra prodding to keep doing it.
2. Ease Back Into Your Routine
You might be tempted to rush back so you can show everyone at the office who’s boss. Don’t do it. You’re not Superman—no matter what your favorite self-help book tells you. While enthusiasm is good, you should use the last days of your holiday to ease back to your routine.
Allow yourself a few days to put everything in order in your home. Clearing your domestic tasks beforehand will enable you to focus mentally. Creating buffer days also means you won’t be stuck on some exotic island due to an unforeseen event that you cannot control.
With the extra day or two, you can restock your fridge, walk the dog, or pay an overdue visit. You can also recheck your schedule for the week, month, or quarter and finalize your routine. Breathe in the ambiance of your home, reintroduce yourself to your bed, and spend time with your loved ones.
When you finally step back into the office, you don’t need to rush. Begin with the simpler tasks on your desk so your mind can slowly get re-attuned to the job.
3. Arrange Your Schedule
If you know what is waiting for you back at the office, you won’t dread returning as much. If you feel like you’re in control, your unwillingness to leave your holiday behind may dissipate quicker.
Manage your schedule and work out the best way to ease back into your job. Plan your first day and make sure to leave the harder tasks for later. Gradually increase your workload, and you won’t end the first week back with the same reluctance you began it.
There’s no point doing too much too soon. The benefits of your vacation may drain away this way. Check your pending and new projects and arrange the best way to get everything done. Focus on finishing the projects you were working on before starting a new one.
This way, you get a taste of how it feels to be working again. If there are no leftover projects, choose a simpler task first so you don’t get overwhelmed.
4. Get Planning Before You Leave for Vacation
You’re about to finish clearing your desk and go on vacay but already anticipate you’ll struggle to come back. You can ease the sense of dread by planning in a way that the office is ready for you when you return.
Arrange your unfinished projects by priority. File away the long-term ones for later and decide what to do about urgent tasks. You may delegate them to a subordinate or inform your supervisor to assign the work elsewhere. Remember that deadlines still need to be met even when you’re away. So, anything that falls due while you’re out should be taken care of.
Going on holiday doesn’t have to mean taking a clean break from work. There are times where taking your work with you can be beneficial. If there’s a project you don’t feel like leaving behind, you can slowly work on it from your vacation hideout. This way, you can beat deadlines, stay productive while having fun, and trim the number of projects that await you on your first day back.
5. Stay Organized
Arrange everything in order before you fly the nest. File paperwork in their correct sections and send important tasks over to those who will do them in your absence. Cleaning up your workspace will give you a better starting point to jump back in.
None of this guarantees you won’t come back to a mess, but you will know where to begin. You can safely ignore the neat stacks and tackle the scattered piles of contracts, reports, and notes.
6. Stay in Touch While You’re Away
Completely detaching yourself from your job will make it harder for you to jump back in. Taking some work with you when you go on vacation will help in this regard. Keeping in touch with coworkers over the project means you can quickly readjust to the office grind when you’re back.
Check the official communication channels and your section’s group chats to get a feel for what’s happening in your absence. Befriend coworkers and ask them for updates so you can stay in the loop. Perhaps, your colleague got a promotion or the general manager moved to another company. You need to keep abreast of the news so you don’t get blindsided.
Knowing about these changes will not just make you better prepared but also increase your anticipation levels. You may learn about a new challenge you can’t wait to tackle. It could be a new implementation you’re pumped to test out or a recent hire you want to work with.
Now, what if you don’t like what you hear? You’d still be coming back with a firm grasp of the situation.
7. Bring Some Mementos Home
Before you know it, the splendid holiday is over and reality beckons. However, reality needn’t be so grim—it all depends on you. Does it break your heart to leave the sights and sounds of an interesting city behind? Then, you can bring a piece of it back with you.
Dr. Jessica de Bloom, Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen, shares:
“Pleasure derived from vacation activities, relaxation, psychological detachment from work and negative incidents during vacation seem to be related to advancements in health and well-being.”
De Bloom’s study also finds that “vacation memories may temporarily enhance mood and well-being and may act as a buffer against future stressors.”
Having those memories on hand can help you weather your first day back. Get as many souvenirs of your trip as you can and arrange them around your home and office. Gazing at a well-placed photo can bring a smile to your face as the memories come rushing back. Mementos are instant mood enhancers and typically provide energy boosts to get you through a challenging task.
8. Share Your Experience with Coworkers
What’s the point of going on vacation if you can’t talk about it? Freely share your adventures with your coworkers. Go ahead and tell them about the time you got lost and kept calling 911. Express how you felt when you realized that the emergency line wouldn’t work because you’re in another country.
Sharing details of your exploits spreads a sense of camaraderie and chases the tension away. Ask them about their trips and get everyone reminiscing. Chip in here and there with funny comments and watch the place dissolve into laughter.
9. Set a Target You’d Love to Meet
A sense of purpose will make you more focused and confident at getting back to work. If there’s a leftover project lying around, make it your target to finish it when you come back. Having something concrete to look forward to will make you happier to be back. However, don’t overdo it. We don’t want you burning out so soon.
Besides project goals, you can challenge yourself to master a skill while you’re away. Would you like to improve your efficiency at your job? Now’s the time to work on it at leisure. You can train during your break and track your time while you’re at it. You will be pumped to get back in the office to test your new levels under real work conditions.
10. Take Breaks When You Need it
Doing your job should be a pleasure and never a pain. Take regular breaks during work hours to decompress. Don’t drown yourself in work just because it’s your first week back. You won’t be doing anyone a favor if you suffer a breakdown.
Remember that you earned your vacation. So, you don’t need to pay for it by working even harder. Maintain the same pace of work as before. Revving up the engine too fast will deplete your mental energy.
Most people don’t want to go back to work after a vacation. Memorable breaks breed reluctance to resume normal work-going life. This is why remote work is so popular nowadays since you can be on holiday and work at the same time.
Even a dream job cannot compare to a dream vacation. When it’s time to go back to the office, you can implement certain steps to smoothen the process.