Every professional needs time to rest and recharge, but getting back into your work routine after a vacation or extended PTO can be difficult, especially if you have a lot of messages or tasks to go through. All too soon, that relaxed feeling you got from your absence is replaced by stress and anxiety about all the tasks that urgently need your attention.
But your first day at work doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. Below the members of Council for Young Entrepreneurs share nine tips to gradually get back to work after your vacation and return to work refreshed and ready to take on your next challenge.
1. Meet your team for debriefing
Hold a “debriefing” meeting to catch up with your key team members. A meeting is valuable because it gives your team a chance to mention things that may have been missed in messages. It also gives you the chance to see if the priorities for an action item have changed. Some may have been resolved or made less important since the last messages were sent. – Matt Doyle, Excel builders
2. Write down your goals for the week
Before diving into all your emails and messages, sit down with a piece of paper and write down your goals for the week. They may change depending on what’s waiting for you, but your goals may also be about catching up, such as: 1. I’ll get all emails at the end of the day; 2. I schedule time in my calendar to complete tasks that need to be done so that my catching up efforts don’t derail critical points; 3. If I feel overwhelmed, I will remind myself that this is only temporary, and be grateful for the free time I get to spend instead of being upset. Finally, be kind to yourself and thank others for their patience with you! – Alex Brown, The Beard Club
3. Start with ‘Me Time’
Going on vacation is always extremely rejuvenating, but all the daunting tasks that add up while you’re away can get overwhelming. The best way for me to tackle my to-do list is to get up early and start my day with me. Getting up an hour earlier at 5am to stretch, pray, meditate and get my morning tea prepares my body for the day ahead. I’ll then dive into my emails to organize them and keep abreast of what happened in my absence. I use a color coding system in my emails to help me get the right tasks done quickly. Starting early for the rest of the day is the best way to catch up and get ready for the new day ahead! – Racquelle Pakutz, Zen Freight Solutions Inc.
4. Prioritize Your To-Do List
When you go back to the office after a while, the amount of work you find in line can feel like an avalanche. However, in my experience, not everything needs your attention, even if it seems that it certainly does. You can leave some emails unanswered for months, and it won’t change anything for your business. So always remember the 80/20 rule: 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. Make a clear distinction between urgent and important, prioritize each task and block time to get it done. – Solomon Thimotheus, OneIMS
5. Implement a ‘catch-up day’
When I come back from a vacation or an extended break from my daily work routine, the first thing I do is a “catch up day”. This means you don’t schedule meetings for the first day back, but spend the time going through the stuff piled up. This allows me to go to “inbox zero”, which means I have no pending messages. It’s a marker of mine to know when I’m in my A-game. Taking this time to make up for the first day will give you mental clarity to properly plan the rest of the week and give you the momentum to hit your peak performance as quickly as possible. – David Henzel, Job station
6. Tackle tasks in batches
Planning ahead is the key. I try to be home at least two days before I have to go back to work. This gives me a bit of a buffer to settle back in and get over any jet lag. When I’m back to work, I try to batch process the jobs that are on hand. I set aside one to two hours for personal emails, then change course and do meetings, then come back to do work-related emails. Focusing on one thing at a time and not jumping from task to task, each requiring different thought processes, has helped me a lot. – Sheila Nazarian, Nazarian Plastic Surgery
7. Start with the most intimidating task first
Returning to work after a long vacation can be daunting. If you play a key role in the company, you may be faced with huge piles of tasks that all seem urgent and important. One of my best tips to help you tackle all those work tasks on your first day is to start with the most intimidating task first. By starting with the task that causes the most mental distress, you can better focus on the rest of your work tasks for the day. Once you’ve accomplished that one big task, you’ll feel more fulfilled and less stressed, giving you a boost of confidence. Go through the to-do list in the same way, working from most intimidating to least. If you use this strategy, you will find that the workday only gets easier as it goes on. – Richard Fong, Insured standard
8. Avoid meetings during the first half of the day
The best tip I have for starting strong after your first day back from vacation is to avoid scheduling meetings for at least the first half of the day. If possible, block that time off your calendar so your team knows you’re busy, and use that time to sift through your inbox and to-do list. Respond to the most urgent things first, then come up with a game plan to tackle the rest of the day or week. As you make your list, you should honestly look at the tasks and decide if they really need to be done and, if so, determine if you are the best person to do them. Sometimes “urgent” tasks aren’t as urgent as they make out! – Diana Goodwin, Market box
9. Take your time
Try not to get entangled all at once. Take the first day back to address the most important aspects of your day. Don’t neglect any aspect of self-care like your morning workout or drinking your favorite tea with work. The welcome back slam will be over and before you know it you’ll be back in your A-game. Try to build in decompression time into coming home. You may plan to do absolutely nothing for the second half of Sunday, or when you get back, but relax and slowly switch back to your work routine. We’re all human, so we all understand this issue, but figure out what works for you and stick with it. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts