How to Take Those First Steps Back from Vacation

We’ve all been there – where you return from a wonderful vacation only to become glum and overwhelmed on your initial return to your job and the real world. When you have a corporate gig – this can be acceptable for a small period of time. But as a business owner this can be self destructive. You just don’t have time to waste!

Keep reading to learn some of my most valuable tips and tricks for making the transition from vacation heaven back to work a successful and happy one.

Tips for returning to work after a glorious vacation

Step One: Plan your Next Vacation

Planning your next vacation might seem like the last thing that you should do when you return – but actually its brilliant if you think of it.

First off, fresh your last vacation, you may already have some ideas of where to go (or not to go) next. Likely, you may have discussed with your other vacation partners and/or family members about next step vacation ideas. Therefore, merely getting the ball rolling may be just what you need.

Second, since your mind has already fully transitioned to vacation mode, it makes little sense to abandon this train of thought after five, seven, or ten days of being on that train. Ease back into work mode, but don’t necessarily end that happy vacation mindset on day one of your return.

Allowing your mind to imagine its next relaxation point will increase your overall productivity moving forward.

Step Two: Just Delete it

This too may seem like the wrong thing to focus on your first day back, but clearing out your inbox of emails that you’ll never read will allow you to focus on the things that need doing. So go ahead and spend thirty minutes deleting all the stuff that came in that doesn’t matter. File important emails away to clear up space. At the end of this, what’s left should be all the things that still need doing.

Step Three: Determine Urgency

I am always amazed at how different people’s time management skills and philosophies vary so widely. Some go back in time and start from the first task they missed, while others focus on which problem seems the biggest. Still others focus on cleaning out their inbox, replying to every email. Other managers simply jump into it without spending any time assessing where to start. Although all of these techniques seem fine, in reality they ignore importance and urgency.

I would warn almost all business owners and executives to not simply jump back into it without first assessing what has been missed. Why? Because picking up the phone without first listening to your messages, and reading your emails has the potential to make you look unorganised and anger clients. Why field a 4th call from a client when you haven’t listened to the first three messages?

When reviewing your emails and voicemails, ask yourself two really important quick questions:

  1. Does this problem need addressing in the next several days?
  2. Is it too late to address this Issue now?

When confronted with these two important questions, many tasks will fail this test.

Determine the urgency of tasks waiting for you after vacation.

Focus on the REAL Due Dates of Projects and Tasks.

One of the smarter things that you can do is to go through your to-do list, and assess each item’s true due date. For items that are due more than ten days out – I immediately take the email or task, then write it down on my calendar. This way, I free up space in my inbox and focus on timely active projects. In other words, projects that need doing now!

It’s Only Too Late When It’s Really Too Late

As an insurance agent I can tell you with certain types of insurance leads, if I did not get around to contacting them fast enough (while I was on vacation), the lead quickly becomes worthless. Not completely worthless, but not important enough to contact on my first day back.

The time that has lapsed though is not the only consideration. Sometimes with certain “very specific” situations, I find that my past experience with certain situations can sometimes make up for my tardiness. Therefore you really need to consider your specific situation.

Have a List and Eat it Too

Now that you have ridden yourself of junk messages, antiquated leads and future obligations, mostly what remains are the most important projects to focus on. Now is the time to work through your remaining emails and consolidate multiple communications. You may have three or four emails and/or voicemails left to follow up on, on any given project.

When things get complicated enough, often its in your best interest to reach out to other parties involved and inquire what the latest status is. Occasionally the problem will have resolved itself, and you may not have received notification of this. After all, who ever remembers to go back to an email chain and type out the words “Problem Solved. Thanks Everyone!” It doesn’t happen enough. That being said, even if that message was sent – unless you look through ALL of the previous communication — you may well end up spinning your wheels on a previously completed project.

Let Loose the New You

With your project list now qualified for timeliness and shrunk down to its core – Go Ahead and release your new found vigor from your vacation. Stay Calm and remember what you learned on Vacation. After all you were only gone for a few days!