Getting back into the work groove after vacation can be painful. No matter how recharged or refreshed you are, it always seems to take a few days to get back into the groove.
My time away from work this past week was really wonderful. I worked up until Christmas and have enjoyed each and every day off since then. We spent Christmas at our new home, unpacked tons of boxes, welcomed my sister into town on Monday, enjoyed a mellow New Years Eve on Thursday, and relaxed all weekend. The time flew by, but I needed it.
The time away from work gave me time to think, to clear my head, and to refocus. Although I’ll miss all the free time and days spent with my family, I’m looking forward to the semester ahead and to the fresh start. I have new notebooks, a shiny new day planner, and a renewed sense of purpose. There’s a lot to get done this week, so I know I need to get back into my work groove really quickly.
Here are a few strategies I use to get myself back into the work groove after taking a vacation or time off from work.
- Re-establish your routine right away. Whether that means going to bed by a certain time, getting up early to work out, or grabbing coffee on your way into work, get back into your routine. I knew I’d struggle my first morning back, so I signed up for a 5AM workout class, packed my lunch the night before, and laid out not only my daughter’s clothes, but also my own. I knew I’d need to get out of bed, work out, and get back into my routine right away.
- As soon as you get into work, create a to-do list. You may even need to do this before you turn on your computer. Create a list of things that are already on your mind before you see what’s waiting for you at work. A quick “brain dump” if you will.
- Clean up your e-mail. I’ll admit that some vacations I check my e-mail, so my first day back isn’t bad, but other times, it can take me a full day just to get through my e-mails. My advice is to start by deleting any spam and then to begin by responding to your oldest e-mails first. New e-mails will start to pile on, but it’s important to get through your old e-mails first.
- Create an action plan. With your to-do list and an organized e-mail account, it’s time to create an action plan. For me, this is just a bigger to-do list. This is the point in which I wish I was back on vacation, and although it’s overwhelming, it’s important to paint a picture of everything you’d like to accomplish your first week back. From there you can create a realistic list of what you need to accomplish each day.
- Crank up the tunes! It’s easy to hit that afternoon slump, so put on some of your favorite music and re-energize yourself. It’s also helpful to get up from your desk and to walk around the office a few times. I’m always amazed what a 5 minute walk can do for my productivity.
- Remind yourself that it’s okay to leave things for tomorrow. Even if you have to create a new to-do list before you leave for the day, remind yourself that it’s okay to leave things for tomorrow. You’ll get everything done! Working late and running yourself into the ground will undo all that relaxing you accomplished during your vacation.
- Limit your week night plans. Maybe I’m just getting old, but after a vacation I really need to spend work week nights at home. I need the time to rest, recharge, and relax. If I am go, go, go my first week back, I always burn out. Get back into your work groove and then next week you can return to filling your evenings with fun events.
- Go to bed early. Set up your DVR, make yourself a cup of tea (or pour yourself a glass of wine), snuggle up to a good book, and go to bed early. You’ll wake up feeling recharged and ready for your second day back in the office after your vacation.
Getting back into the work groove after vacation can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be. Take charge, stay organized, and get back into your routine. Oh, and start planning your next vacation.