10 Ways to Get Back to the Grind After Vacation

Vacations are awesome. They’re also beneficial, allowing you to restock energy reserves, boost happiness, calm your mind and even lower your risk of heart attack, all of which can help make you a better leader. You know what’s not awesome? Trying to relocate the zone after returning from vacation. But if you implement the following 10 tips, you’ll get back in the workflow in no time.



1. Prepare before you go.

I know that you’re itching to get out of town, but life is going to be a whole lot easier when you return if you make a few preparations. For example, tidy up your workplace so things like unopened mail don’t add to existing clutter. Check all messages, email and voicemail, and don’t forget to set an out-of-office message and provide your employees with any information that would be needed in case of an emergency. Lastly, write down a running list of any ongoing projects and top priorities, as well as what you expect your team to have completed while you’re away so you can better assess any progress was made on current projects and how far the team has moved toward its goals.

2. Take a buffer day.

Don’t go straight back to work. Give yourself a day or two to relax, catch up on some sleep and recover from jetlag. Use this time to unpack, do laundry and go grocery shopping. In my experience, it’s almost impossible to get into the workflow again when you’re exhausted or worried.

3. Jump back into your routine.

Our bodies and minds love daily habits, so make sure that you already have an established, healthy routine and stick to it as much as possible while you’re out of town. Try to wake up and go to bed at the same time, eat healthy and exercise, although you don’t have to be as strict. I mean, you are on vacation. If/when you break your routine, don’t beat yourself up. Use those buffer days to reestablish your healthy habits so that you can be productive and focused when it’s time to get back to work.

4. Review your calendar.

The day before returning to work, review your calendar. The last thing that you want is to walk into your office and get caught off guard by any surprises like a canceled meeting. What’s more, see if any calendar entries can be put off until you’ve addressed your priorities so that you’ll have the attention and energy to home in on what’s most important.

5. Pace yourself.

Yes, you have a million things to get back to work on immediately, but not every one of those items or tasks has to be tackled today. Heck, some of them might not have to be addressed this week or even this month. One way to keep from stretching yourself too thin is not to schedule any appointments or meetings on the day you get back. Also, make sure that you take frequent breaks so you don’t burn yourself out. One thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve tended to skip lunch that first day back because I’m so stressed and busy. Don’t do this. You need the energy a nutritious meal provides. Plus, attending lunch will allow you to engage with your team and find out what happened while you were away, as well as share stories from your vacation.

One company I worked for had a fun policy. Whoever came back from vacation had to have photos in rotation on their computer. At the return lunch, we took a full 30 minutes to view them and hear about their trip. Maybe it was overkill, but no one in the office would have missed work on the day of a return from holiday. I planned and executed better vacations, prepared better for the vacation and everyone enjoyed returning to the office more because of these get-togethers.

6. Delegate what you can.

Check your ego at the door and admit that you can’t do everything on your own. This adage is equally apt when you’re heading out of town or first returning. Handing off responsibilities can be nerve-racking, but the key to delegating work tasks is clearly explaining your expectations and making sure that you get the right person for the job. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to ask an employee with no interest in social media to check in on your accounts while you’re away.

7. Zone in on your “why.”

Your “why” is what gets you out of bed in the morning. It’s what gives you drive and direction and, most importantly, it clarifies your mission and answers the crucial question: What am I trying to accomplish today? Even a couple of days away can make you think differently. Rediscovering your “why” gives you focus and lets you prioritize what needs to get done to reach your goals.

8. Remove unnecessary distractions.

Just like any other day, if you want to get into the zone, then you need to block out the most significant workplace distractions. These interferences can be everything from smartphone notifications to co-workers asking how your trip was. When you’re ready to buckle down and work, keep the phone off, close distracting web browsers, don’t attend pointless meetings and close your office door. A first day back might be a good time to use those noise-canceling headphones.

9. Bring your vacation back with you.

If you bought something fantastic on your vacation that evokes pleasurable memories, bring it to work, because when you’re happy, you’re productive. Another way to bring your vacation back with you is to jump immediately into anything that was frustrating you before you left. Revisiting these obstacles quickly lets you approach them from a fresh perspective.

10. Plan your next getaway.

Even though you just got back to the daily grind, planning your next vacation is a proven way to keep you focused and motivated. Get some fresh ideas and begin thinking and planning, because anticipating travel can be the happiest part of the journey. Boosting your productivity, getting back into the zone and staying focused right now is what you need. Go ahead and plan your next trip, and you’ll have no trouble getting your mind flowing back into the zone.

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