by Gillian Morris
Statton Design Group has over 23 years of experience as a commercial interior design firm in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area. Every Monday we will share team updates from our Southlake, TX location and give you a sneak peek into the exciting world of commercial design and/or share general insight from our workplace experiences.
Returning to work after a vacation, particularly a long one, can be painful. Often it takes weeks to feel fully caught up on missed work…or to answer those one-hundred or so unread emails. (Yikes!) This inevitable catching-up process fills many-a-worker with dread upon returning to the office. Talk about vacation scaries.
Today is my first day back at work after a blissful 10-day beach vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. (I would highly recommend visiting, if you haven’t already!) After thoroughly enjoying my time away, but knowing full-well the threat of the vacation scaries, I embarked on a quest to make my transition back to work as smooth as possible. Here are some things I have learned along the way to help you bounce back after your next vacation.
Build Unpacking and Packing Days into Your Vacation Time.
Back in my earlier days of shift work, I learned this lesson the hard way: Make the first day of your vacation time a Packing Day and the last day of your vacation an Unpacking Day. Scheduling these days ensures that you aren’t rushing to pack immediately before your flight or staying up late to do laundry the night before your first day back at work. Rushing through either of these inevitable pre- and post-vacation tasks injects unnecessary stress into your vacation and increases the dread of returning to work.
Work on Pre and Post Vacation Tasks Gradually.
If you can’t afford the luxury of Packing and Unpacking Days, map out a timeline of small tasks that you can complete gradually. Personally, I find that this works best over the course of one full week, so typically I use a calendar to help me visualize a timeframe then work towards my goal one day at a time. For example, this week I plan on doing 2 loads of laundry per day until I have eventually cleaned, folded and put away all of the dirty clothes from my suitcase.
Get an Early Start on Your First Day Back.
The last thing anyone wants to do on their first day back from vacation is jump into a meeting or conference call the moment they walk in the door. That's why starting early is so important: It empowers you to set the pace of the day and reduces any feelings of chaos. As a rule, I try to start a good hour early on that first day back, which gives me plenty of time to organize my desk, read through emails, and plan my day.
Brain Dump, then Prioritize.
Brain Dumping is an extremely effective organizational tool and is vital for minimizing stress and maximizing productivity post-vacation. To brain dump, just take a pen and paper (I use a small notebook) and write down everything you need to do. Literally everything. Once you have gotten down all of your tasks on paper, go through each one and identify the one task that you should complete first. Then identify the second task to complete, then the third, and so on and so forth. Once you have prioritized at least 10 tasks, get to work on the first one. As you complete each one, cross it off and evaluate any remaining. Transcribing all potential to-dos onto a single piece of paper minimizes the occasional panic caused by sudden recall of those random things you need to do (e.g. buying more dog food on the way home or sending an email to a colleague); since everything is already written down on your list, you can rest easy knowing that all will eventually get done in due time.
Set Aside Email Time and Keep it Brief.
Remember those hundreds of emails patiently waiting in your inbox? You’ve got to answer them, but the task doesn’t have to be as torturous as it seems. Keep each email a few sentences long and feel free to tell your email recipient that you just got back from vacation. Flag the email and reply with a more in-depth response once you have completed all of your higher-priority tasks.
Don’t try and make your first week back the most productive week of your life—start small. Focus on small victories on Monday (like responding to all of your emails!), then go from there. Who knows, you may feel back to your normal productive self before Friday, but if not, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Start Planning Your Next Vacation!
This may seem like an odd tip since it runs counterintuitive to staying productive at work, but looking forward to your next trip is always great motivation to work harder in the present. Whatever your goals may be leading up to your next long weekend or day off, use your time back at work to chip away at them day by day, and before you realize it, you'll be packing up for your next adventure!
Hope these tips help you recover from your vacation! Going back to work may not be as fun as lounging on the beach, but it certainly doesn't have to be the nightmare you might dread.
Back from vacation and looking for help with your commercial interior design project? Contact us at Statton Design Group for a free design or furniture consultation. If you're in the Southlake, TX or Dallas Fort Worth area, we would love to set up a time to meet in person. Give us a call, send us an email or leave your comments below to start finding your design solution!