Taking time off work to unwind is a great way to refresh and recalibrate. As your vacation draws to a close while you’re enjoying yourself on a beach in Greece or surfing in Bali, you can’t help but think of work and the impending stress that awaits upon your return. With a bit of preparation and good ol’ organization, you’ll get back into the work grind faster than you can say Aperol Spritz.
1. Buffer day
It starts when you book your flights and accommodations. As much as you’d like to max out your vacation days and spend every last minute you can perfecting that sun-kissed tan, returning the day before you’re expected back at work isn’t the best idea. Instead, give yourself a buffer day to get organized and back into your routine, giving you time to gradually turn on “work” mode.
2. Plan your return week before you head off
This will give you an overview of what your tasks will be when you get back to the office. Break it down into tasks you’d like to tackle each day based on the deadlines, this will also help you prioritize and ensure that you don’t miss any important deadlines.
3. Organize a holiday handover
You probably have someone at work who will cover your urgent tasks and projects while you’re away, if not, ask a trusted colleague to cover you. Ensure a smooth handover by detailing the current status of each task, and what he/she needs to follow up on.
4. Schedule a meeting with your manager to regroup
Before heading out on your trip, schedule a meeting with your manager for your first day back. This can be a quick 10 minute meeting for the morning of your return to get a high-level understanding of all things you missed while you were away, helping you focus your attention on the most crucial tasks.
5. Set an OOO message
You should set an automatic Out of Office response to inform all incoming emails of your temporary absence. The message should include the exact days you’ll be away, when you’ll be back at work, as well as the email addresses of your colleague(s) who will be covering your tasks.
6. Check your calendar the day before you return
This is what your buffer day is for - get an idea of what your return week will look like so that you don’t miss any meetings or deadlines that were planned when you were away. In addition to that, this will show your manager that you’re ready to get back to work in your catch up meeting the next morning.
7. Clear your inbox
It can be daunting to look at the hundreds of emails that piled up when you were sipping mojitos without a care in the world. A great tip is to group and read your emails by sender or subject rather than chronologically. This way, you’re reading the most up-to-date and relevant content at one time.
8. Schedule a sit-down with your holiday handover
Instead of just working on the handover document you prepared before leaving, ask your colleague for 10 minutes of their day to go through each item. Bonus points if you schedule a reminder email to be sent out to your colleague a couple of days before so that they can prepare for your return.
9. Make a To-Do list
Now that you’ve combed through your email inbox and have the latest updates on all your outstanding tasks, it’s time to get down to business. First, review the tasks and deadlines you planned from before your holiday (#2), use that to prioritize and update your to-do list. Be realistic about the tasks you can accomplish each day. For example, set yourself the goal of completing two items each day. This will also allow you to give your colleagues, clients and manager an idea of when they can expect an update from you on the items you have to work on.
10. Hold off on immediately announcing your return
You’re back at work and eager to show your manager that you’re ready to go. Though it’s tempting to send out an email letting your colleagues and clients know that you’re back, wait it out for a couple of days before opening the floodgates of requests that are likely to take over your inbox.
With these nifty tricks and a little organization, you’ll slip right back into your work routine as you come off your holiday high.