Returning to work after vacation is a dicey proposition. Who hasn't entertained thoughts of quitting and moving to Mexico after laying on a sunny beach for a week? How you experience your return to work can greatly impact your job satisfaction. How depleting to return from a restful time away from the office, only to have your good mood popped immediately upon return.
Here are the poor returns I've suffered through:
- The stack of work piled so high in my in-box, it made me want to walk right out the door again.
- The scary series of ever increasing urgent voice mails from the boss, as the work nightmare evidently unfolded while I was away. "Do you know where the Maxx file is?" ... "We can't find the Maxx file..." "You better call me immediately when you get this..." "I'm calling to give you a heads up, John is really upset over this Maxx thing. I've been working to cover for you all morning...."
- The horrifying letter that came while I was away. "If I don't hear from you in five days, I'm going to bring a motion."
- The sickening letters that went out under my signature while I was away. My turn to be the harsh one. "You said that?$#!@@ In writing!!!
I'm back from vacation today. I spent the car ride in from the airport wondering how I was going to keep the fuzzy cloud of contentment around me awhile longer. It's rather like tying to keep that relaxed and enjoyable feeling in your body after a massage.
Here is what I think helps with the reentry phase:
- Plan your next visit/vacation away from the office, even if all it will be in a half-day off to visit the dentist and realign your tires. Giving your unconscious something to look forward to can help cut down on work shock.
- Plan your steps carefully. What will you look at first, second, third.
- Skip the full day return. Plan your vacation so that you only have to put in a partial day your first day back, it will help you regain your stamina.
- Think positively. Whatever has occurred while you were away can be interpreted as a good thing, or a bad thing. Opt for the good interpretation.
- Leave yourself a happy surprise before you leave. A small gift. Something wrapped. A favorite work activity. You deserve something nice your first day back.
Before you settle too far back into your normal routine, take time to implement whatever brainstorms came to you while away. Another good thing is to take time to write out any career or life insights you made. Typically, our best vantage points on life and work come when we can get some distance from the day-to-day tension of work. Capitalize on the big-brain thinking that occurs when you travel, and record your thoughts. If you take a few minutes of extra time on your first day back at the office to capture these treasures and make up an action plan, you will have squeezed the maximum value out of your time away.