By Natasha E. Feghali
Sun, sand, grilling delicious meals and more are coming to an end as we say goodbye to summer and welcome autumn. For many of us this means a return to work. The idea of returning to the office, sales floor or classroom after a vacation could make us call in sick! Vacation and reality usually have very little in common, except for a sense of anticipation. Being greeted by an overflowing inbox and a hectic meeting schedule may cause you to suffer from the back-to-work blues, making it difficult to focus on that mountain of work in front of you.
While many of us expect to sit down at our desks, after time away, filled with boundless energy and restored creativity for the well fuelled new projects, we usually end up spending several scattered hours (or days) trying to process a deluge of emails, files, meetings and falling further behind on tasks that have built up in the meantime.
Before any long vacation or extended leave of absence, it is important to set yourself up for success upon your return. If not, the post-vacation return can bring on a crash in your work-life balance and perhaps even some irritable moods! According to Julie Morgenstern, productivity consultant and author of Never Check Email In The Morning, “You’ve got to set yourself up so there’s the minimum pileup while you’re gone, once you invest in that process once, it becomes an automated process.” When planning time away from work, most people focus on getting organized for their departure and not their return. Avoid undoing all that restoration by treating your return as something that needs to be managed in advance.
Perhaps a working lunch for a few days will leave you better prepared? Therefore, do not leave any projects or deadlines to the last minute yet focus on important tasks. Many employees do not gage the amount of work that they will return to and postpone their worrisome tasks until their return or even do them while on vacation!
Protect the time you’ve set aside to get caught up the way you would your vacation time. It can be just as necessary so it needs to be treated that way. “Build in some transition time. Don’t book anything for your first day in the office, allot the time,” says Morgenstern. “And block off the time in your calendar. If it looks like you’re available, people are going to put things on your calendar. These are meetings with your to-dos.” If going back to work gives you persmission to be lazy or ineffective then it’s time for a change, as our time off is to recharge our batteries to be more effective in the workplace. This doesn’t mean that you need to be over productive, however it does mean that being efficient will result in not leaving your work or your colleagues’ work behind. This can create an ever bigger work load for you and your colleagues as well as some unnecessary ill intent in the work environment.
The experts agree and so should you! Going back to work can be a stressful time, only when you are unprepared.