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5 Steps for Returning to Work from Vacation

Last week, I took what was probably the longest, most disconnected break from work I’ve had in many years. I even wrote a post about how I was going to deal with it, and I’m happy to say that I stuck by my plan and am glad I did.

Now, however, I’m back and see a mountain of things in front of me. The first day back to work after vacation can almost make you wish you never left in the first place, and if you don’t have a plan of attack going into that first day of work, it’s going to attack you. So here are five simple ways to help get going again. I’m doing all of these myself today as I reengage my work and brain:

1. Have a plan:
Go into the day with a plan for what absolutely needs to be done this first day back to work. If you don’t have that in mind, you’re likely to either toil away at less important things or just give your attention to whatever seems urgent at the moment.

2. Set a schedule:
I have a schedule for the day that includes when I’ll make phone calls, when I’ll check the pile of e-mail waiting on me, when I’ll do this blog post, and even when I’m going to check the various Facebook notifications I got while I was out. It doesn’t hurt to over plan the day after a long break because you can lean on the structure to move you through the day when you begin to get sidetracked. 

3. Set reasonable goals:
While it’s great to have a plan for the day, go ahead and expect that something will pop up that wasn’t on the schedule, and things will probably take longer than you want them to. Set a reasonable goal for the day. What needs to be done today so you feel like you accomplished the important stuff by the end of the day?

4. No meetings:
If you can keep your first day back to work clear of meetings, you’ll be able to do all that other stuff on your schedule. You don’t always have this luxury, but you’ll appreciate not having meetings to go to this first day back if you can get it. It lets you get your feet under you before you start breaking up your days with meetings.

5. Press on regardless:
At some point today, I’m going to think back to sitting on the beach this time last week. If I don’t help myself, my mind will start to wander, and I’ll want to do something easier than the hard work of pressing forward through this first day back to work. Give yourself the necessary breaks in your day so that when you’re working you’re really working and not just going through the motions.