How to Return From Vacation as if You’d Never Left, in 3 Simple Steps

How to Return From Vacation as if You’d Never Left, in 3 Simple Steps

You’ve just flown home from a long, glorious vacation. You should feel great, but you don’t.

Tasks have been piling up while you were away, and the prospect of a mountain of emails, catch-up meetings, and various work-related fires is daunting. Your back, which a week at the beach had relaxed beautifully, knots up again at the thought.

Why do this to yourself? It’s possible to both enjoy the benefits of a vacation and return to the office almost as if you’d never left it. Here’s how:

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1. Don’t get behind before you start.

The smoothness of your return to the office will mirror that of your departure. If you put off packing, figuring out passport and financial details, finding a babysitter, getting vaccinated, etc., until the last minute, you’ll lose at least a couple days of work before you even board the plane.

Have everything ready to go at least a week before you head out. This will allow you to crank right up until the last minute–that final day of work before vacation will be just like any other day.

2. During your vacation, schedule a little time every day for business.

Dedicate 30 minutes or less to staying on top of work every single day that you’re gone. That might seem antithetical to the idea of vacationing, but think of it as exercise.

Athletes used to vigorous daily routines know that even a small amount of exercise will help keep them in shape in the event that they can’t perform their usual workout. And like exercise, forcing yourself to keep up with the goings on at the office will provide mental relief, even if it’s hard in the moment.

During those 30 minutes, a couple of things are critical. First, delete all the junk from your inbox. This includes emails from people you don’t know and threads where you can see that your incremental voice is unnecessary to move the needle on something.

Second, over-delegate. Anything urgent in nature that doesn’t absolutely require your participation, hand over to a trusted colleague. Stuff that does require your personal presence, set aside for your return.

Take two examples from HR. If it’s a case of reported sexual harassment, that needs to be dealt with now. Hand it over. But if you get a message saying, “Hey, we forgot that we’d committed a compensation increase to so-and-so and he’s stewing about it,” that can wait until you fly home to give your apology a personal touch.

3. Get totally caught up the weekend of your return.

Let’s say that your daily inbox is 20 percent junk and 80 percent tasks you’d take care of yourself in your normal workday. After delegation, you end up with around 5 percent of chores that you’ll have to set aside and deal with on your own when you get back.

After a five-day vacation, you’re only about a day behind. Maestros of the first two steps might even cut that down to a third of a day. Schedule your flight home for Saturday instead of Sunday, and take care of that missed day before your new week even starts.

All three steps require discipline, but imagine what you’ll save in stress. Imagine what you’ll gain in actually absorbing the health benefits of that week off, instead of shedding them the second you cross your doorstep.

One last thing: Give your colleagues plenty of notice that you’ll be asking them to take on more than usual in your absence. Let them know that you’ll be happy to return the favor.

If everybody’s got everybody’s back, those backs can stay relaxed.

This article originally appeared on Inc.

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