Offboarding Employees

How To Recover From Vacation

Not all vacations are created equal. Some are active and include hiking, boating, or camping. Some are relaxing and feature an all-inclusive resort and spa. Then you have your sightseeing vacation, which can be active and hurried..even stressful. And of course there is the workation that has you checking email every hour.

None of these vacations are better than the other, they just provide a different experience. What they do have in common, however, is that they disrupt your “normal” life. And by normal life, I mean your work and home life. That’s why you often hear people who’ve just returned from vacation say “I need a vacation from my vacation”.

Getting Your Feet Underneath You

Returning from vacation is bittersweet. You’re excited to be back home and have access to all your creature comforts, for me that’s my bed and kitchen. But you’re also a little sad to be leaving the adventure and excitement of your vacation spot. Upon returning home, you might find that your mind is still on vacation. So how do you snap out of it and recover from vacation?

I like to plan. Planning your return from vacation before you even leave on vacation is ideal, but at a minimum you can use your flight or car ride home to plan. Don’t try to hold onto a few more hours of vacation while you travel home–a good rule: vacation begins when you board your plane (or car) to depart, and it ends when you board your plane (or car) to return. Use travel time to get your feet underneath you, so you can hit the ground running on your return.

5 Steps To Recover From Vacation

Depending on your situation, you may have more or less to take care of upon your return. A good house-sitter can make sure your house is maintained–grass cut, flowers watered, dogs fed, rooms cleaned, and even have your pantry filled for your return. Likewise, a well-prepared employer will make sure that the majority of your work is completed while you are gone, minimizing the amount of catch-up you’ll need to do.

Sadly, most vacationers return to more work at home and in the office. Here are five steps to help you deal with that extra work and recover fully from your vacation.

1) Get Your House In Order

  • Start laundry as soon as you return. You’ve likely been living out of a suitcase for a week, so the first step back to normal is to get those clothes clean and back into your dresser.
  • Clean…something you should have done before you left on vacation, but if you are one those last-minute packers, you might have clothes strewn about, takeout boxes on the counter, and a house in disarray. A clean house will bring you peace and calm, and it will allow you to focus on work when the time comes.
  • Go grocery shopping and avoid eating out. You’re hungry and your cupboards are bare, but now is not the time to slip back into vacation mode. Throw out any expired food and then head to the grocery store. Choose healthy meals that you’ll look forward to eating–this will help you resist the temptation to eat out.
  • If you have a lawn and/or garden, do what you can but don’t beat yourself up. Make it look presentable, and then save the rest of the work for the following weekend.

 2) Clean That Inbox

  • It’s been waiting for you…the dreaded inbox. It’s amazing how much email (most of it junk) can accumulate over the course of a week. Well, it’s been patiently waiting for you, and now it’s time to organize it. If possible and palatable, try to do this on your trip home. Just quickly delete all the easily recognizable crap, read/scan the rest of the emails,  and highlight all the important emails…DO NOT RESPOND to any email unless it’s an immediate need.

3) Connect With Colleagues

  • It’s a good idea to go ahead and email your colleagues or important work-related contacts upon your return. Send them a quick note that let’s them know 1) you’re back and it was great  2) you will be using the first morning back to go through emails 3) to not expect email replies until that afternoon or the next day.
  • If in going through emails you come across immediate needs or issues that should be addressed soon, schedule those discussions with colleagues for your first week back.

4) Set First Week Goals

  • You don’t want to bring vacation back with you, but you also don’t want to run yourself ragged during your first week back. After going through email, but before responding to emails, write down a handful of goals you’d like to complete in your first week back. Having these goals in place will help ensure that you’re focused on what you need to get done and not overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work and your colleague’s requests.

5) Protect Your Free Time

  • Vacation is a benefit that is supposed to help bring happiness to employees. You’re supposed to enjoy your time off and not dread your time back in the office. Additionally, you shouldn’t have to work extra time the week before and after your vacation in order to enjoy it. Be sure to take your normal breaks, work your normal hours, and use your free time to relax. This will be hard to do the first few days back, but it will help you stay positive and maintain that vacation glow.

Not everyone is ready to return from vacation, but we all eventually have to do it.  Returning is much easier and pleasant if you have a plan for how you will address the additional work that awaits you. A plan helps you avoid overworking yourself, and it will help you maintain your energy until your next vacation.

Image credit: Delta B-727 (1970’s) by Hunter Desportes (contact)

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