How to Fend Off Post-Vacation Blues — and Get Back to Business
Jul 20, 2015
By: Kelly Spors
Taking a much-needed vacation feels heavenly, but returning from vacation? That can be pure pain.
Many business owners — and almost everyone, really — struggle to get back in the groove of work after taking time off. Your brain is still on that Hawaiian island, even though your body isn’t.
How can you get your concentration back and refocus on business priorities after days or weeks of mind-numbing relaxation? Some tips to avoid post-vacation blues:
1. Delegate before you go
Business owners are naturally self-reliant and don’t usually like to delegate. But you can drastically reduce your post-vacation workload by communicating your vacation plans to your co-workers well in advance, then assigning someone else to your usual tasks.
For example, rather than waiting to answer all client calls and emails when you get back, have a trusted colleague available to tackle any issues (and include contact information for that person in your automatic out-of-office email reply).
“If someone else can do it, make sure someone else is doing it, so you don't have to play catch up while you're gone — and your clients or customers don't feel slighted because you took a few days off,” writes Alan Henry of Lifehacker.
2. Get your sleep schedule back on track
Nothing kills productivity like drowsiness. Sleep disturbances caused by time zone changes can make you tired and unable to concentrate after a vacation. Aim to get back into your usual work/sleep schedule a day or two before returning.
Dr. Russell Rosenberg, CEO of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine and Technology, suggests waking up at your normal work time as quickly as possible after a trip, as well as getting sunlight. Taking melatonin* 15 to 30 minutes before you need to go to bed at night can also help reset your internal clock.
“What's really important is to set a regular wakeup time," he tells The Huffington Post. "The bedtime will eventually reset itself."
3. Plan for your absence — and return — before you go
How you prepare for a vacation can greatly reduce post-vacation stress. Before you leave, look at your workload and determine what you need to do before your trip and what can wait until afterward. List out what you'll need to accomplish after you get back, even if you don’t get to it immediately.
4. Make a focused, very short to-do list for day 1 back
Ease back into work by biting off only what you can chew. Focus your first day back on one or two simple things — perhaps reading and responding to any must-read emails. You’ll end the day feeling like you’ve accomplished something and feel motivated to do more the following day. Likewise, don’t plan any big meetings for your first day back.
“Build in some transition time,” productivity consultant Julie Morgenstern tells Forbes. She adds: “And block off the time in your calendar. If it looks like you’re available, people are going to put things on your calendar.”
Whatever you do, remember that vacations are your chance to relax and recharge. You don’t want your post-vacation blues to negate all the benefits you gained from taking time away.
*The drug mentioned above is for informational purposes only and are based on scientific and technical research noted below. The information does not constitute a medical consultation and cannot replace medical advice. Any information should never be used as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other health care provider.
About the Author
Kelly Spors is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. She previously worked as a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering small business and entrepreneurship.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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