Last week I was working with a great team in creating a new program to help jump-start businesses make that next great leap forward. It was fun and exhilarating to know that this program will make a difference.
But I could also see that the entire team was tired and overwhelmed, and one of the executives was telling me that she was leaving for vacation, but would have to make it a working vacation because so many important projects were not completed.
Business fatigue is becoming pervasive, especially within the small business community (see Suffering from Business Fatigue? This Might Be the Answer ).
Time for rest and relaxation is so important if you want to be creative, innovative and productive in your business. So even a few days away from the stress and strain of the office can have an amazing impact on your mind/body health. So plan that vacation—and make it a real vacation.
But you have just returned from a great vacation, you sit at your desk and within seconds are overwhelmed with the volume of work that piled up in just a few days.
We’ve all had that terrible feeling when we come to the office after an extended away trip and feel that you just have to plough through all the work that is waiting for you. And in just a short time all the exuberance and restoration from your vacation has immediately evaporated.
But wait—there is a better way!
Manage Your Return in Advance
Everyone spends lots of time planning for their get-a-way, yet very few understand that you also need to plan your return as well. If you take some simple steps your transition back into work mode can be a comfortable event as well. Here are some steps you can take that will make your re-entry to work more satisfying.
Before You Leave
Set an earlier-than-last-minute return.
Consider coming back on Saturday instead of Sunday. That will give you time to unpack, pick up a few essential groceries and just catch your breath after returning home. And if you are in the mood, you can get a quiet, uninterrupted jump on email to lessen the impact that first day back in the office.
Clean up your desk.
There is nothing worse than returning from time away to a desk full of files, unopened mail and whatever sitting on your desk—raising your blood pressure even before you sit down. Also, when you return to work and find a number of items on your desk, deal with them immediately and get it off your plate.
Set your away message.
Let people know that you are away, and who they can contact if there is an emergency. Consider setting your back at the office date a couple of days after you return, to give yourself some catch-up time.
Review your calendar.
Make sure the first few days back at the office are not filled with lots of in-house or client meetings. Give yourself some transition time.
Many entrepreneurs really cannot disconnect completely—though it really is a good idea if you can. But if you have to, then set a schedule you can live with. For example, get up early every second day and work for an hour and a half, but only on urgent matters. Then disconnect for the next 46.5 hours. That can also help with the back to work transition
When You Return to Work
- Keep the out-of-office message on.
Give yourself a day or two to just catch up, clean out your emails, review mail and reports, all in peaceful tranquility. Also it will stop a lot of calls until you are ready to receive them.
Do remember to turn off your out-of-office message.
Put a note on your calendar to remind you when to turn it back on. You don’t want it showing for weeks after your return.
Review your calendar.
Note any important dates for meetings or report deadlines. Also don’t plan lots of back-to-back meetings immediately. Give yourself some breathing space to gently ease back into work mode.
Prioritize your tasks.
You will be overwhelmed with voice mails, emails, reports—reminding you of everything you were working on before you left. Don’t jump on the first thing, take the time to list all that needs to be done, but only work on the most important issues. What are the three to five most important things that need to be accomplished your first days back?
Focus on one thing at a time.
Knowing you will be overwhelmed when you see all the things that need to be done; our first thought is to work on everything at once. This is not the most efficient way to proceed. Turn off the cell and work on—and finish—your most important task, then focus on the next. You will find you get much more accomplished.
Enjoy your first week back.
Schedule lunches with friends, take a coffee break, or downloading a great podcast can make the transition back to work less brutal.
Leave the office on time.
Don’t plan to work late the first few days back in the office. Set a reminder and walk out the door at the time you set. You can play the hero next week.
Vacations are an important part of keeping you fresh and creative at work. Don’t beat yourself up over all that needs to be done. Stay calm and relaxed—you will be in routine soon enough.
Diane Weklar, the Authority on Accelerating Business Growth, is the CEO of the Weklar Business Institute. She is the author of the award winning book, Mastering the Money Maze: 10 Secrets to Winning Business Financing,which is also an Amazon #1 Best Seller. This book provides practical insight to build a successful business and the practical steps to raise capital to help your firm grow. She can be reached at Diane@Weklar.com.