Vacation Re-Entry…3 Steps to Master the Skill in 2015

Posted by Stacey Brown Randall

“Why do I even go on vacation?”

Ever had that thought yourself? Bet you have.

We mutter it as we begin to re-enter work after a vacation on either the night before we head back to work or the morning of our first day back at work…the emails that need to be tended to seem endless, the phone calls that must be returned have stacked up, the co-workers are lurking because they can finally get your attention and the work is just hanging out…waiting for you.

For a lot of my clients the start of March and April means the start of vacation season mostly dictated by their kids’ school spring break schedule and others taking a vacation just because. I find myself having many discussions around the impact our vacations have on work.

The most common complaint…the deluge of work you find yourself in once you return. In fact I heard my husband make the same complaint back in February when he returned from his annual golf trip. Sitting at our kitchen table on Sunday night, just back from five days of golf with buddies, he muttered, “Why do I even go on vacation?”

I cringed because that is the LAST response you should have when it comes to your vacation. Vacations are important. They allow us to disconnect, take a breath, enjoy some down time, reconnect with those who matter and spend time doing the things that make life worth living. They are also good for the economy…the hospitality and tourism industry wouldn’t exist without vacations.

So how do we enjoy the post-vacation arrival back at work? By shifting how we prepare. My good friend, mentor and productivity guru Carson Tate first introduced me almost a decade ago to the term “vacation mode.” It is that sense of focused productivity we enter as our vacation draws near…working hard to get everything done, accounted for and delegated before we leave on vacation.

But we need to also think about post-vacation re-entry…what will our arrival back at work look like and how will we handle it? Here are three tips I share with clients to manage that first week back at work after a vacation. The trick is doing both of these things BEFORE you leave for vacation.

1. Plan extra white space or blocked work time early in week

Unfortunately there will be projects that have come a standstill because they need you to move forward (or so your team thinks), voicemails and emails to deal with and status updates you need so you know where things stand. Create space – as much as possible – to get caught up within your first few days back at work. Make sure your team knows not to schedule things on your calendar during this time.

2. Move or delete any non-essential meetings or events

The week after vacation is not the week to have a ton of networking events to attend or meetings to “catch up.” So if you have scheduled things that aren’t critical move them a week or two out past your vacation. Of course keep the items that are critical like client or prospect meetings. If you look at the week in April after my vacation you will see only client coaching sessions, one company workshop, one association meeting (that I am leading) and a day of jury duty (obviously not my choice and my deferral requests are used up). That’s it. The rest of the time on my calendar is blocked for focused work time.

3. Look ahead to get ahead with your work

What looming deadlines, presentations, tasks and projects are going to be due the week you return from vacation? Is there anything you can do now, before vacation, to lighten your load for when you return? By looking ahead and planning your work in advance you may avoid the late night hours of working that seem to be typical after vacation.

What other tips and strategies do you deploy to make vacation re-entry more manageable, and dare I say, more enjoyable? Please share your thoughts…it may just make someone decide to actually use their vacation days this year!


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