Let’s all release one big groan in unison because let’s be real, the first day back from vacation is the same feeling you get when the cable/internet company says they’ll be there between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
But, I’ve got three tips for things you can do to ease yourself back into work after days off in paradise. (Plus, this bonus tutorial on using beach souvenirs as workspace décor courtesy of ProfessionGal TV). Drum roll please… (but not too loudly because I know you’re tired).
1. Get into the office early (like, actually do this).
Ever notice that you get the most work done with the least amount of coworkers bugging hanging around you? This doesn’t just happen when working late, people. Getting into the office a couple of hours before anyone else typically does give you the head start you’ll need to catch up (since, hopefully, you weren’t checking emails too often while on vacation–so that you could actually have a vacation).
Use this quiet time to get your ducks in a row, so that you know exactly what you need to tackle first to finish in the most time-efficient manner. It’s hard to think straight when everyone swings by your desk to say, “Hey, I know you’re busy but how was your trip?” Or, “So glad your back; I’ve got something new for your to work on.” Am I right?
One of the biggest time suckers on your post-vacation to-do list is getting your inbox from 600 to zero. The quickest way to do this is to read them backwards. Meaning, start from the most recent to the oldest so that you don’t waste your time (and annoy the people who took your load while you were out) by answering old emails that were already addressed and completed. The last thing you want is to spend time spinning your wheels only to realize that the question/issue you were working on solving for an hour and a half was already handled by the time you get to email 1,000.
2. Touch base with your boss and coworkers.
To kill two birds with one stone, I like to schedule a lunch meeting with team members so that I can quickly go over open items, internal news I may have missed while gone, and new projects without the back and forth (and clutter) of emails.
Send this request out first thing in the morning so that they know there is an allotted time to catch up with you. Then hopefully they’ll hold off interrupting your workflow until it’s lunchtime. This is when they can share any important developments.
3. Just say no to new projects (just for today, anyway).
You’ll have plenty on your plate (with very little time to eat anything that requires a plate) without adding new things to worry about. It’s ok to respond with dates and times to speak about those projects to begin the planning stage, but putting them into action on day one when you’re back will only add to the anxiety you woke up with.
I’ve got one final note for those of you returning from a trip abroad with major jet lag. To be sure you start your week with the right internal clock, make yourself schedule something social after work on your first day back. Maybe it’s a glass of wine and appetizers with friends to look at some of your vacay photos, whatever! This will be something you look forward to, as a treat to getting all of your first-day-back goals completed and will prevent you from going to bed too early, prolonging your jet lag through the rest of the week.