Managing your return from vacation

EVERYTHING was planned. Details were recorded, tasks delegated, and instructions were left in capable hands.

You counted the days until the long holiday break, making sure that you can leave on time for that trip away from the traffic, deadlines, and toxic boss. Your feet had wings as you left your office.

Your mind was already drifting to sandy shores, margaritas, and days of just lounging around.

Oh yes, you’ve prepared so well for what happens before and during your vacation.

You forgot the after, though. And the reality is no beach party – especially the reality of going back to work after a long break.

Ask those who have lived long enough in the grind and let them tell you how they’ve turned into killjoys who would rather cash in their vacation leaves than actually take them.

They will tell you that after you’ve gone through the first set of backlogs, your beloved vacation memories would have been relegated to a mere wisp of a wonderful, forgotten dream. They will tell you that it’s like your week back to work feels like a punishment for having such a grand time away.

Not preparing for the back-to-work week after a long break can set you up for emotional crashes such as feelings of being overwhelmed, ganged-up on, free-floating anxieties, constant irritability, and major outbursts.

To preserve even the tiniest calm and relaxed aura from your vacation days, it may help to remember the following:

1. Avoid returning from vacation on a Sunday or the day before you have to get back to work.

With all the unpacking, grocery shopping, laundry, and other house chores you need to prioritize upon arrival, you will need an extra day to fully recuperate and get your bearings back.

2. Plan to plan on the first day.

It can be shocking to see the tower-high pile of work greeting you on the first day back. It’s like everyone around is just smiling with unabashed glee, waiting to see the payback for all your tauntingly boastful “fun under the sun” Instagram photos.

Plan your first day to be a day of sorting and putting things into perspective. Laying the groundwork and viewing the overall picture will prevent you from turning into a big ogre who is completely overwhelmed by his or her tasks.

Strategizing your plan of attack enables you to calmly begin dissecting what needs to be prioritized.

3. Remember to eat your week one bite at a time.

Do not lump all your backlogs in one sitting. You took that vacation so you could come back refreshed and more productive. Take the good from your vacation as fuel to be more enlightened as to how you approach work.

Schedule handling one backlog only an extra hour a day and only if needed. Sometimes the tons of messages in your inbox are not as formidable once you’ve sorted most of them as junk or not urgent at all.

As you’re still adjusting getting back on the saddle of work, set your meetings on the second or third day of the work week. This is to make sure that you’re physically and psychologically prepared to handle any negative updates from colleagues.

This will also give you enough time to touch-base with key people so you can put preventive measures ahead of deadlines.

Try using emails or other communication tools for direct instructions or straight-forward correspondence as an alternative to actual meetings if you still feel stressed.

Going back to work after a vacation can flow smoothly. But it can only happen when you first accept that there will be adjustments and then strategize how to deal with them effectively.

Involve family and friends because they are your best support system.

Don’t make them feel guilty for having fun with you just because you have to return to work after the break.

Assure them that you did enjoy your time during your summer outing, and though there may be some catching up to do at work, your vacation was worth it because now you come back more energized.