The vision of returning to the office after vacation and the reality usually have very little in common. While many of us expect to sit down at our desks after time away filled with boundless energy and restored creativity that will fuel new projects, what usually ends up happening is that we spend several scattered hours (or days) trying to process a deluge of emails and falling further behind on tasks that have built up in the interim.
?You?ve got to set yourself up so there?s the minimum pileup while you?re gone,? says Julie Morgenstern, productivity consultant and author of Never Check Email In The Morning. ?Once you invest in that process once, it becomes an automated process. ?Every time I go away, this is my coverage bible.??
How can you avoid the post-vacation crush and hang on to that refreshed glow?
Actively plan for your return.
When planning time away from work, most people focus on getting organized for departure. Avoid undoing all that restoration by treating your return as something that needs to be managed in advance as well.
While many of us try to maximize vacation time by coming home Sunday night, Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, suggests considering an earlier-than-last-minute return.
?Consider coming back on Saturday instead of Sunday,? says Vanderkam, emphasizing that time to unpack, pick up a few essential groceries, and get a quiet, uninterrupted jump on email can lessen the impact that first day back in the office.
Factor in some triage.
Don?t just walk back into the office after a vacation without a plan of attack?unless you want to be steamrolled.
?The tendency is to try to make up for all the meetings you miss,? says Vanderkam. ?As much as possible, try to push those to the second day or the afternoon gives you a little bit of space.?
Morgenstern suggests you protect the time you?ve set aside to get caught up the way you would a meeting or a presentation. It?s just as necessary?so treat it that way.
?Build in some transition time. Don?t book anything for your first day in the office, allot the time,? says Morgenstern. ?And block off the time in your calendar. If it looks like you?re available, people are going to put things on your calendar. These are meetings with your to-dos.?
Your out-of-office response is your first line of defense?wield it to your advantage
Your out-of -office autoreply needs to be straightforward (ditch the phrase ?much-needed vacation,? please), helpful, and honest?but not that honest. Vanderkam recommends leaving it up through that catch-up period; your coworkers will know you?re available but it will help stem the tidal wave of outside inquiries, or at least lower the expectation of an immediate response.
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