How to Prepare for Returning to Work After a Vacation

December 27, 2016

The holiday season is here, which means the office is going to seem empty over the next week or two. The summer break and winter holiday break are the two most popular times for employees to take vacations, and while the time off is always fun, returning to the workplace is nowhere near as exciting. In fact, for many employees, the thought of returning to mountains of work can make the last few days of vacation extremely stressful. It doesn’t have to be.

Here are tips for preparing for work after a vacation from the office:

Do Extra Work Before the Vacation — Unless this is your first vacation, you know that your return from work will be stressful, so why not prepare for it. Think ahead before your vacation and try to get some of the repetitive tasks out of the way ahead of time. For example, I work heavily in social media marketing, so I schedule out Facebook and Twitter posts to run during my vacation, but also for the first week after I return just so I won’t have to worry too much about it. The more you can clear off your plate before you leave for vacation, the less you may have to deal with upon your return. 

Do Some Work While on Vacation  In a previous post on why it’s important for employees to take vacation time they have earned, I mentioned that it was OK to do some small amounts of work while enjoying time away from the office. It is helpful for an employee who doesn’t want to come back to piles of work to eliminate some of the easier tasks that don’t require too much effort. Go through your emails during down time (i.e. while drinking coffee, waiting for your significant other to shower, right after waking up, or right before going to sleep) and answer emails that don’t take too much effort. Getting rid of the tedious work allows you to dedicate more time to the more stressful items that pop up, which may make you wonder why you took a vacation in the first place. 

Get Your Staff to Work While You’re Away — If you are a manager, you have a staff, and if you are not using your staff effectively, you are not being an efficient leader. Before you leave for vacation, you should have a meeting with your team and go over what you expect from them while you are away. They are going to have to step up and pitch in to get some of your tasks done when you’re gone. In addition, I suggest reading through your emails while on vacation and delegating some tasks to staff prior to your return. That way if the projects are not yet completed when you do get back, at least your staff is working on them, making your life a little less stressful.

Think About Work While Soaking Up the Sun — Prior to vacation, there are times when you just want to walk into your supervisor’s office and quit. We take vacations to recharge our batteries, but they are also an opportunity to allow us to think about work differently. You can motivate yourself in a way that makes your return to work more exciting. Because we are not in the office, our everyday thinking does not constrain us, and we are more likely to think outside the box. When we are sitting on the beach and our minds begin to wander to what awaits us at work, we can look at a task and find a more creative way to approach it. We can look at things we hate about our jobs and find ways to make those aspects of work more enjoyable. And we can think of new projects we can tackle that might not only make our work more enjoyable, but benefit the company and potentially advance our career.

The holidays are supposed to be fun. Don’t waste your vacation time dreading your return.

by Jon Minners

Chicago City Hall
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