How to Return to Work After Vacation

By Rachael Funk

Oh no. It happened. Your dream vacation has come to an end and it’s time to get back into your usual work routine. Somehow, you have to leave behind the leisurely sunsets, Old Town charms, and unbelievable food to get back to your regular life. Though it can be a bummer to end a great getaway, here are some helpful tips for how to come back.

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Give yourself a buffer day

If you can avoid it, don’t schedule your return the day before (or worse: the same day!) you need to get back to work. Give yourself some time to start your laundry, wash off the travel dust, and readjust to your usual time zone. This way, you can take a little breather before diving back into real life.

Hit the hay early

On Back-to-Work Eve, get to bed earlier than usual. This will help you wake up the following morning refreshed and ready to take on the day. Set your alarm before the usual time, too, so you can arrive to work early and prepare for the coming day in peace.

Make a to-do list

Write down the most important tasks which need to be addressed on day one, and prioritize from there. Start with anything you didn’t finish before you left, or whatever has an impending deadline. Picking up where you left off will help you get back into the swing of things, plus you’ll get to revel in the satisfaction of slicing items off your list.

Check in with your colleagues

Get up to speed on what happened in the office while you were gone. Find out if there were any major changes or events during your trip, so you have a broad idea of what needs to be prioritized. If you are working on any special projects or have deadlines to worry about, be sure to ask specific questions about those so your colleagues don’t gloss over anything pertinent.

Don’t get bogged down in Email Land

It’s likely you’ll have a mountain of emails to sort through upon your return, but be mindful of how much time you spend in your inbox. Though it’s tedious and time-consuming, email activity does not always equate to productivity. Be ruthless about what needs immediate attention and what can wait.

Take a few short breaks

True, you did just get back from a fabulous vacation, but a surefire way to jump right back into burnout is to immediately overload yourself. Don’t be guilted into trying to be a superhero; most employers are aware it can take a day or two to catch up. Focus on one thing at a time and give yourself permission to readjust at a reasonable pace.

Purge your desk

Coming back to work with a fresh outlook is made all the easier in a tidy workspace. This is a great opportunity to clear your cubicle of clutter or reorganize your files to maximize efficiency. Knowing exactly where everything is can be an incredible stress-reducer. If you are super on top of things, you could even do this step before you leave!

Eat well

You may still feel sluggish and “off” by the time you get back to work. You can help your body keep up energy by shoveling in the greens and drinking lots of water. Though it can be an extra step in the morning to pack your lunch for the workday, your body will thank you later.

Brag a little

It’s okay; your coworkers have the same amount of vacation time as you. Chances are high that they’ll be bursting with curiosity about your trip and want to live vicariously through you. Share a few stories, show a few photos, dole out those souvenirs you picked up at the duty-free that you’re pretending are from a hole-in-the-wall shop...part of the fun of vacationing is talking about it, after all!

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