Coming back from a magical vacation isn’t much fun.
One minute, you’re lounging by the sparkling, blue sea without a care in the world. The next, you’re back in your gray cubicle, feeling jet-lagged and sunburned.
But your transition back to the office doesn’t have to be a total nightmare. In fact, there are certain steps you can take on your first day back that’ll make the whole process much easier.
With some simple strategizing, you’ll get back into your usual work groove in no time:
If you want to ease back into work, you’ve got to prepare.
“Get to bed early the night before, and get in a little early,” Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,” told Business Insider. “That will mitigate the workload avalanche and give you a head start, sans distraction.”
Don’t schedule a ton of meetings and deadlines during your first day back. That’ll just leave you feeling overwhelmed and behind on your work.
“Ideally, try and keep your first day back schedule-free from any meetings or appointments — keep it as open as possible so that you have the entire day free to catch up and not feel overwhelmed,” Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “The Humor Advantage,” told Business Insider.
Kerr recommended strategizing before you begin your day: “Take several minutes to plan your day before diving in, focus on priorities, and don’t be afraid to ask for support.”
If you’re facing an avalanche of work, try prioritizing your tasks, Taylor said:
“Handle emergencies first. Decide what’s most important to your job, your boss, and your project list. Look at the big picture, not what comes to you sequentially. Learn to say ‘no’ to low priority items hurled your way.”
Before diving back in to individual emails and projects, Ryan Kahn, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group, and author of “Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad,” told Business Insider that it’s important to get a broad idea of how things were while you were gone.
“Figure out if there were any major events or changes that occurred,” he said. “This way, you’ll be generally up to speed before diving in deep into the day-to day details of your work.”
Beware of spending too much time responding to the emails you missed while you were out.
“It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of responding to every email without considering whether it’s the best use of your time on the first day back,” Kerr said. “Don’t confuse email activity with productive work, so be strategic and only respond to email that are time sensitive.”
Now that you’re back, it’s a good idea to touch base with your boss and coworkers to let them know what you’re working on. Taylor added that it’s important to keep these interactions brief and relatively cursory, until “you’re comfortably caught up.”
You should also connect with your best clients.
“Take the time to connect with one or two clients to let them know they’re top of mind with you and that you’re back if they need anything,” Kerr said. “It’s a simple customer service touch point that can make a big impression.”
You might be tempted to work yourself into the ground after your vacation. After all, you’ve had your time to relax. Now, you’ve got to put your nose to the grindstone.
But this approach will probably end up backfiring.
Instead, Kerr said to make sure you take breaks, stretch, and eat well during the day. Kerr said:
“It’s easy to fall in the trap of feeling like you must put your head down and plow through the first day back non-stop until everything is done. But tackling your first day with that approach will not only potentially cause you great stress; it will increase that chances that you’ll make mistakes and likely result in you being less, rather than more, productive.”
Taylor says that, at a breakneck pace, you’ll eventually tire, and your efforts will be counterproductive.
“Take an extra break during the day, and make sure you get in a longer break than usual,” she said. “You need to create a transition of relaxation.”
She added that, after work, it’s important to resume your normal routine and get to bed at a decent hour.
There’s bound to be a bunch of distractions waiting for you back at the office.
“People may ask you how your vacation was,” Taylor said. “Social media and news headlines will make you feel like you’ve lost touch with your friends and the world at large.”
Don’t waste time chatting or scrolling through the news. Try to focus on your work.
Taylor also advised against showing off all your vacation photos unless you’re at lunch and your close confidantes have asked.
“For one, it will distract you from work. Two, you don’t want to gloat to the entire staff,” she said.
Instead of feeling blue about being back and work, look back on your fondest memories from your vacation with gratitude.
“Try to extend the state of bliss you achieved while gone as best you can,” Taylor said. “Remember: You are in control of your thoughts.”