Ah, vacation. We dream of it. The relaxing days away from the demands of work and of life. I’m sure you can picture it now.
But wait, there’s a dark side. The return to reality – and to work. While going on vacation can be bliss, the return to our normal schedule can be less than, well, blissful.
We work so hard to get ready to leave our routine so we can take some time off – only to come back to the stress of the work we left undone, along with a pile of new tasks on top of it. That could be enough to make anyone run back to the resort.
To help you ease back into your work routine after a vacation, here are some simple hacks you can try:
1. Plan an extra day off when you return
Let’s face it: When you arrive back home, you’re going to be exhausted and have a heap of laundry, an empty fridge and a pile of mail to sort through. The last thing you’ll want to do is get up early to head into the office the day after you return. Why not plan an extra day off to get your life back in order before you get back to work? If this isn't an option, return on a Friday or Saturday when you’ll have a built-in day or two to get organized.
2. Set your alarm clock a little later
If you can, allow yourself to rest up. While there’s a myth that vacations are relaxing, for many of us, they’re just not. Traveling can be tiring. And if you go to a destination where you’re doing a lot of hiking or participating in a lot of activities, you’re probably more active than you are at home. If possible, sleep-in just a little. Take a nap. Go to bed a slightly earlier. You’ll feel much better about everything if you’re well rested.
3. Make plans to meet a friend for lunch
If you have a lunch date with a friend on the calendar for your first day back in the office, you’ll have something to look forward to. This can ease your transition back to the grind. You can talk about your vacation and relive some of the memories you made.
4. Prioritize your to-do list
We all have those tasks that, while they need to be done, can wait another day – or week. Be sure to prioritize your tasks so that what really needs to be accomplished is at the top of your list. Then, work on those less essential items as time allows. Don’t try to get it all done in your first days back.
5. Try accomplishing smaller tasks first
Speaking of that to-do list: If you can knock out some less intensive tasks first, you may be more motivated to get started on the bigger ones. If you’re overwhelmed, it’s hard to get started at all. You may find that being able to achieve a few smaller tasks quickly will give you momentum.
6. Organize before you leave
When we go on a trip, we’re always stressed about getting out the door. Why not take a little extra time to set yourself up for success before you leave so that returning isn’t such a nightmare? Make a list of all the things that need to be done when you get back. If possible, delegate tasks that someone else can handle in your absence and offer to do the same for them when they take a few days off.
7. Allow yourself to continue to relax and try new things
One of the best parts of getting away is experiencing new things. Why not try incorporating some of that vacation mindset into your everyday routine when you get home? Do something out of the box that you normally wouldn’t do. Make an appointment for a massage. Sit on a patio and drink a fancy cocktail. Read a book set in an exotic locale. Try a new recipe or restaurant that reminds you of the food you ate while you were away. Any of these new activities will help you stay excited about the reality ahead.
8. Get back to basics
When you get back, you don’t need to be superhuman. Don’t plan a new exercise routine or try a new diet or take up a new hobby – just stick to the basics for a week or so. Don’t try to accomplish too much. Give yourself time to readjust before adding anything new. No need to overdo – just coast for a bit. If you can lean on the comforts of your usual routine, you may not feel as overwhelmed. And remember, getting the must-dos done is enough.
9. Plan your next trip
If you’re bummed about coming back from vacation, one of the best ways to break out of that mindset is to plan your next one. Many of us come back inspired by what we’ve seen and experienced, and immediately start daydreaming of where we might like to go next. If it helps you to have a plan, by all means, make one.
10. Take it one step at a time
So, you’re traveling back home and running through your mind are 101 things you need to do when you get there. Next thing you know, you’re more stressed out than before you left. But stop. Before you get caught up in the endless list of what needs your attention, take a deep breath. Focus on the next task at hand. Once you have a sense of being able to tackle that next task, move on to the next thing. That will help give you a feeling of, “Oh, I can do this.” And that feeling will give you the confidence you need to get fully up to speed again... eventually.
You'll find Michelle Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. A true mompreneur, Michelle launched her consulting business so she could better balance work with motherhood. She’s a public relations consultant, blogger, speaker and award-winning writer whose articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Spin Sucks, CIO, Meltwater and Freelancers Union.