Going Back to Work After Vacation — 5 Tips for Easing Back In

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April 15, 2024 at 3:34AM UTC
That vacation is going to be just heavenly—a week or two of getting away from it all. You’ll be soaking up the sun, or perhaps pitching a tent in the middle of nowhere for the ultimate recharge. And you’ll be feeling on top of the world when you return, right? Not necessarily.
Unfortunately, going back to work looms at the end of your vacation, threatening to ruin all of your good relaxation vibes. Do you feel like you absolutely loved your job before your break but struggle to make it through the day when you return?

Falling Back In Love With Your Job

When you get back from a vacation and jump straight into the work that piled up while you were gone, it can take the shine off any position, no matter how much you love your job.
Since spending your entire life on vacation probably isn’t an option, consider some tips to create a better transition back to work after a vacation.

1. Schedule a Buffer Day

Whether you flew to Paris or binge-watched Netflix from your couch, chances are some everyday household activities didn’t get done during your vacation.
Eliminate some stress by marking off time to handle everyday tasks before heading back to the office, such as buying groceries or doing laundry. Yes, that might mean returning from your destination a day early or postponing the last few chapters of a page-turner, but you’ll be thankful for it later.
Consider all of the tasks that need to be in place to set yourself up for success each week. Are you a meal-prepper, or do you pack lunches for the week? When is bedtime for you and everyone else in the house? Are there homework or daycare bags that need to be packed? Animals to pick up from the kennel?
These tasks require some time and attention to help your workday run smoothly. If you’re scrambling to prepare everything on your first day back, you’re setting yourself up for a stressful day before you’ve even arrived at work.

2. Ignore the Urge to Tackle It All

Congratulations are in order if your time off left you ready to take on your job with new vigor. Rejuvenation is a vital part of a vacation, but catching up on two weeks of work doesn’t happen instantly. Focus instead on prioritizing your tasks and setting realistic goals. No need to return home that first evening feeling like you need another vacation already!
For best results, set yourself up for success before you even leave for vacation. Often, feeling overwhelmed is the result of not knowing where to begin.
Create a to-do list for your first day back with time scheduled to catch up on emails and respond to urgent messages. Don’t give in to the urge to start putting out fires. You might actually waste time on something that you discover has already been resolved. Instead, form a list of tasks based on priority and set manageable goals to work through them.

3. Fly Under the Radar

If you have a good relationship with your coworkers, they’ll probably be eager to hear about your trip, which is lovely—until you’ve shared your vacation stories with several different members of the team and lost several hours of your morning. Instead, when it comes up, consider saying something like:
“Hi! I can’t wait to catch up with you after I go through some emails. What time are you free this week? Maybe we can schedule a time to chat?”
Most coworkers will understand the need to catch up and will look forward to scheduling some time to hear about your time away later.
As a caveat, though, ensure that you do meet up later. Rather than burying yourself in tasks, make time for connecting to help create some mental space from your duties.

4. Clear Your First Morning

Along those same lines, avoid booking any appointments during your initial hours back. This will allow you to assess what is urgent and deal with those items before additional tasks start creeping onto your to-do list.
Block off this time on your calendar and any communal schedule. Consider it a meeting with yourself. When you do start heading back into meetings, you’ll be caught up on the status of the projects that occurred while you were away.

5. Set Boundaries for Yourself

Want to keep that feel-good vacation vibe going? Continue building relaxation and fun into your schedule, even after your vacation has ended. Ensure that you’re not skipping your downtime in an effort to get on top of your to-do list. Begin as you mean to continue.
While you might think, “I’ll get that run in later this week when I’m caught up,” the reality is that the longer you put it off, the less likely it is that you’ll jump back in. Prioritize taking breaks, which will boost your productivity and help alleviate your back-to-work stress.

Let Normality Back in Gently

A healthy work-life balance will make you a better worker and a happier person overall. Regardless of how much you love your job, it’s always a little tough to leave the relaxation of excellent vacation time. Even more challenging is returning to work when you don’t actually like (let alone love) your job.
Perhaps the time away has helped you to put things into perspective. Are you burning the candle at both ends? It might be time to create healthier work boundaries. This could mean getting rid of a stressful commute or delegating more to others on your team. It could even mean it’s time to consider a career change to a less stressful role.
If your vacation has helped reinforce your conviction that you need to find a different role, FlexJobs can help! Whatever your needs are, there's a flexible job that can support them. Take FlexJobs tour to find out all the ways membership can support your career goals.
This article originally appeared in FlexJobs. FlexJobs is the leading career service specializing in flexible work, providing the largest database of vetted remote and flexible job listings. To support job seekers in all phases of their journey, FlexJobs offers a range of services including expert advice, job search events, and career coaching. FlexJobs also works with leading companies to recruit quality remote talent and optimize their remote and flexible workplace.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for going back to work after a vacation? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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