Are you planning to take some time off work? Taking a break from work can provide a much needed break; it can give you rest and relaxation. Vacations can be exciting and exhilarating. Vacations can leave you feeling energized. But when it is time to return to work, will you end up wishing you had never taken any time off? Will you have stacks of work to complete and spend days just trying to sort it out?
Planning for your first day back to work before you leave for vacation is well worth the time and effort.
1) Set up an auto-responder on your email. Indicate that you will not be responding to messages during vacation. Include a date you will be returning. If possible, use one or two days after your planned return. This will allow you extra time to start responding to emails before you are barraged with requests.
2) Change your voice mail message. Use the day after your planned return in the message to again give you some time to catch up before receiving many phone calls.
3) Write short notes about the status of projects or tasks being completed and what the next step that should be taken is. If someone should need to refer to your work, they will have the information they need. If not, you will not need to spend time trying to remember what you were doing; the note will help you pick up right where you left off before vacation.
4) Determine if there are tasks that will need to be completed before your return and delegate these tasks to someone else in your office. Keep a list of what tasks you have delegated and who you gave each one to.
5) Write a “things to do” list and leave it in a desk drawer. On your return, this will help you to get back on track quicker.
6) Consider extending your vacation by one day. This day can be to do laundry, food shopping and to mentally prepare yourself to return to work. This is very helpful if you have been out of town during your vacation.
Once you return to work, there are a few steps you can take to ease your transition back to focusing on your job.
1) Use the “things to do” list you prepared before you left to decide if there are any tasks that need to be completed immediately.
2) Divide any work that has piled up into three piles. One is for immediate attention, one can wait a day or two and the last pile is for those items that can be put off until the following week.
3) Use the same system for your email. Set up temporary files in your email service and divide your emails according to how urgent they are.
4) Listen to your messages and write each message on a separate piece of paper, filing them in the appropriate piles (today, tomorrow, next week).
5) Put aside all of the items that do not need to be addressed today.
6) Allow yourself time. Returning to work can be an adjustment and if you allow yourself to become overwhelmed, you may end up feeling as if you didn’t accomplish anything your first day back. Take it easy and work only on what needs immediate attention.