How to resume high spirits when returning to work after a vacation
You didn’t want it to end. You’ve finally reached that point in your life when you were able to invest in a serious vacation. Luckily, everything went off without a hitch. It was great, perfect, even. You recall a brief realization you had on the hump day of your holiday, about how this wonderful time was going to end soon. But you quickly brushed the bummers aside and partied like it was 1999.
But, alas, all good things do come to an end. You’re back at work for another year.
But it’s really not that bad, is it? You’ve had worse jobs, MUCH worse. You’ve come a long way. So what if you’re back in the cubicle staring at a computer screen? It wasn’t too long ago that you were working retail sales. Now THAT was draining! But you’re a product of your generation, there’s nothing to be ashamed of if you want to take it easy as often as possible.
So, when you first return from your vacation, chill. Don’t overwhelm yourself with thoughts of, “Oh, I’ve got to do this and that…” Relax, give yourself a day or two to start unpacking or doing the laundry. Put your chores aside so you can ease your way back to the mindset of work.
And when you do get back for that first day, it’s going to be easy to be overwhelmed by the voluminous backlog that awaits you. You’re first instinct may be to tackle it all at once, but that’s not wise. It’s gonna make you want to curl up into a ball and lament the passing of your week off. Be reasonable, take your time. Deal with the priority matters first, obviously, and you’ll find yourself getting back into the groove of things.
And just because the vacation’s over the fun doesn’t have to be, too. If it’s so bad that you just want to stall your return to the job, think ahead and plan something nice for immediately after the first day back. Attack happy hour, catch a movie with your friends, or go out to dinner with them… you’ll find that the perceived trauma of returning to work wasn’t that profound after all.
If you fill a position that requires a large amount of email communication, simplify things for yourself by dealing with the email load from the last two days only. Think about it, any dire emergencies that needed your attention prior to then would likely have since been resolved. If not, they’ve contacted you again in the last 48 hours. Don’t be like Atlas with the weight of the world – or in this case hundreds of emails – on your back. Prioritize!
Maybe one of the reasons you’ve dragged your feet in returning is because you expect the workload to be so heavy you’ll have to put in tons of extra hours. You’re already miserable just thinking about catching up. Your mental health is important and right now you need to foster a positive attitude. If staying late is going to have a negative effect, don’t do it. Everything in time!
Of course, a little preventative maintenance can’t hurt. Before your vacation, eliminate what you can from your ‘to do’ list. If you can wrap something up so it’s not waiting for you, do it! Leave reminders for yourself regarding what is urgent and requires your attention. Don’t return blindly and have to go through it all, slowly reminding yourself only then of what’s to be done.
Heck, you may even want to be a little sneaky. Especially if you have a ton of folks emailing now that you’re back. You’re already playing catch-up, additional tasks at this moment help nothing. What to do? Leave your personal emails’ vacation auto-reply on for a couple of days. It’s so easy to forget about that little bugger! But if you turn it off immediately, you’ll feel like everybody’s trying to get a piece of you. Let them wait. If they really need you they can come to your desk. Otherwise, you don’t need to be hounded. Re-activate on Wednesday, when you’re reasonably back in the saddle, back to normal and ready to take on all comers.
Work can be what you make it. It can be fun, or at least feature some fun elements. Enjoy learning about what you missed while you were gone. Engage in some gossip, why not? You’ve been out of the loop. Re-embrace the environment and your coworkers. It’s good to have friends at work, friends make us happy. Make the most of your work situation – the majority of us all are in the same boat – and we all learn to survive. Whether you put a happy or sad face on it all is your choice.