Whether it’s a holiday weekend or a much-needed sabbatical, the most difficult part about taking a vacation is getting back to work. You can easily spot people still in “vacation mode”. They’re the ones wandering around the office either chatting with people or a looking around with glazed look in their eyes.
You can try to force yourself to work, but most of us know how badly the procrastination bug can bite when you’re not in a productive mood. Even if you chain yourself to your desk, an unfocused mind can find anything more interesting to do than work. Even staplers.
So how can you overcome this procrastination period and get up to speed in the fastest way possible?
Warm Up the Night Before
I’m a huge believer in not mixing work and personal time, but there are times when you really do have to pay the piper. The night before you go back to work, spend an hour or two catching up on emails or reviewing your task list. If your team is using project management software, review the email notifications and get a handle on the project’s current state.
Get it Out of Your System
Did your vacation go really well? Did something happen that you’re dying to tell your co-worker about? Then go talk to them and get it off your chest. Talking to your co-worker helps you transition from a “vacation” mindset to a “workplace” mindset—especially if the conversation segues into shop talk.
Just remember to keep your conversation short. You both have things to do, remember.
Don’t Hit the Ground Running
You might be tempted to park your butt in the chair and start hammering away at last week’s pending tasks, but in reality that’s probably not a good idea. Unless the entire company went on vacation, the project probably moved forward in your absence.
Take stock of where the team is currently at before you do anything significant. A quick review of your project dashboard should do the trick, with a couple of follow-up conversations to clarify some things.
The email inbox is what people dread the most. Counting the number of “unread” emails saps whatever post-holiday motivation you’ve managed to scrape up. Catching up on all those messages (or even just deleting the useless ones) can easily take up an entire morning. But you’ve got other things to do.
Allocate just enough time to finish a significant chunk of your email messages, and then leave the rest for later. Scan subject lines and senders for the most important/urgent messages. Don’t bother opening low-priority messages until you have some breathing room.
Many of us dread going back to work after a long, relaxing holiday. But with the above tips, I hope that your transition can be made a little less painful.
Image credit, Flickr, Al_HikesAZ