It’s an all-too common story: You save funds and PTO days to treat yourself to a week-long getaway. Whether you decide to hit the beach or visit the slopes, you thoroughly enjoy the break from the hurried pace of work. You return to your job rested and reinvigorated — but then you open your inbox.
Suddenly you’re flooded with hundreds of emails, countless voice messages and co-workers stopping by constantly to drop off new to-do’s. As your stress levels hits the roof, you suddenly wish you’d never taken a vacation at all!
This post-vacation chaos may be a main factor why 55 percent of Americans don’t use all their vacation days, but that doesn’t need to be your reality. Staying on track throughout a well-deserved vacation isn’t rocket science, and you can do so with a few smart strategies.
1. Be Proactive and Have a Plan
What you do — or don’t do — before you leave can dramatically affect your stress level when you return. Keep projects flowing smoothly by setting an out-of-office message with the name of a trusted colleague. If appropriate, create a folder of important information about clients and tasks that can be easily accessed while your gone. Set boundaries for when co-workers can contact you and how.
2. Check Email Early
After you return from satisfying your wanderlust, it’s easy to put off work until the very last minute — often 8 a.m. Monday morning. However, you can prepare your mind for the transition back to the real world — and reduce stress — by checking your email a day early. Delete unnecessary emails, sort through important action items and flag priority tasks. No need to respond! This exercise simply gives you a head start on your looming workday, eliminating any unwanted surprises that may catch you off-guard.
3. Push Meetings a Day
Ambitious professionals have a tendency to fill up their calendars immediately when they return from a vacation. This can be a big mistake. If your first day back is packed with back-to-back meetings, you’ll leave no time to catch up on communication and events that transpired while you were gone. If possible, block your calendar the first day back and immerse yourself in catch-up activities and actual work. Meetings and even the start of major projects can wait one day in most cases.
PTO is an important benefit and should be used fully each year. A vacation allows you to disconnect and return to work with renewed energy and passion