Vacations are great – in fact, I’d go so far as to call them a necessity. But, in essence, all you are doing is shifting time around – either by working longer before you go to clear your to-do list or by catching up when you get back.
Before you leave, you’ve got your vacation to look forward to, so while it can be hectic, somehow everything gets done because there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s when you get back that the endless pile of work starts to trip you up.
Here’s how I approach coming back from a vacation. Use these tips to make your return to work as stress-free as possible.
Plan Ahead for Extra Time
Before you go, set up your email signature or out of office reply to say that you are not back in the office until the day after you return. That gives you a day’s breathing room to get on top of your inbox and everything else that needs doing before anyone realizes you’re back. You can also do this before you go, saying you’ll be out of the office a day earlier – it works wonders.
Get Your Routine Back
As soon as you possibly can, get back into your old routine. That will help give your days structure and trick your mind into thinking everything is as it should be. It can also help you find your stride again as the routine is so familiar, boosting your productivity.
Ease into It
If you’re like most people I know, you’ll dive headfirst into work and become completely overwhelmed in no time. Then you’ll start beating yourself up about achieving so little when there is so much to do. Don’t do this – accept that it’s going to take some time to get on top of everything and that’s ok.
Get Your Thoughts on Paper
Go through everything you need to do, and then approach it like a mind-mapping or brain-storming exercise. Get all your tasks written down on paper (or a digital version, if you prefer) and start grouping activities and ordering them by priority. Once you’ve got this, you’ve got a structured list to start working your way through.
Create a Visual Schedule
Another way to manage your tasks – particularly if you need to stick to a schedule – is to create time blocks in your calendar. Create a block of time for each task, and then fit those blocks into the time you have available. Suddenly, you’ve got a visual schedule, so you can make better decisions about what work you can and can’t take on. Once you’ve got your plan, try to stick to it as much as possible – that’s how things will get done.
A stress-free return to work is just one part of maintaining a happy and healthy team. For other strategies to look after your staff, check out my upcoming book, Health Well Done: A Patient-Centered Management Approach to Building Healthcare Environments, which will be released in Fall 2018.