Beat the post-vacation blues!
Posted on 14 August 2019
Vacations are awesome! Returning from vacations, however, not so much.
One moment you’re exploring the world or lounging on the beach, the next you’re staring off into space by the office water dispenser with a bad case of existential dread.
Indeed, nobody looks forward to mounting emails and perfunctory meetings after spending days or weeks of rest, adventure and wonder… but alas these bills won’t pay themselves. If you’re not in the right mindset when you return to your daily grind, the post-vacation blues you may experience could turn into a full-blown burnout. For a smoother transition back to work, here are 5 tips that can help you rebound.
In order to avoid giving yourself a whiplash, it’s important to set a day or two for relaxing and recuperating at home before heading back to work. While you may be tempted to extend your travels for as long as possible, you’ll certainly appreciate the extra time you can take to catch up on sleep, put things away and adjust to life as usual. Unpack your bags, do your laundry and shop for groceries. With your home and mind in order, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and more prepared when it’s time to go to work.
Now that you’re back in the office and not exactly sure where to pick up, the first thing you can do is to clear your workspace. If you’ve been away for quite some time, you will likely find heaps of files, envelopes and memos waiting for you on your desk… and not to mention those unopened emails. Don’t be intimidated by the workload! Some of them are junk anyways. Take some time to sort these items so they don’t clutter your workspace - and subsequently your mind - for the rest of the week.
Remember that you don’t actually need to reply to all the emails or process all the files thoroughly at this stage! You’re simply categorising them based on how time-sensitive and important they are. If it’s junk, chuck it. If it’s important but not like “my boss needed this yesterday” important, flag it and keep in view. And If it is indeed “my manager is breathing down my neck” important, put it on your to-do list for the day or for the week. Once you’ve sort out your priorities, it’ll be easier to make a productive to-do list that helps restore your work rhythm.
Nobody wants to deal with Monday blues so let’s just fast forward the week to a Wednesday. Not only will this shorten your week, it’ll also make you feel more motivated to push through the day’s work with the weekends on the horizon. The time span of three days is much easier to deal with than a full work week after a relaxing vacation.
The best way to get into the rhythm of life again is to establish a routine -- even a temporary one can help your body readjust to the change of pace. Gone is the luxury of staying up late and sleeping in like most of us do during the holidays. Hence, you’ll need to keep a consistent sleeping schedule or else you might find it difficult to shake off that jet lag, which can make you groggy and cranky during the day. After you’ve settled back into work, you can change this routine to something less controlled.
The point of this tip to encourage you to take short breaks! Yes, you just came back from a prolonged one, but that doesn’t mean you have to work non-stop to make up for lost time upon your return. You’ll feel more energised if you allow yourself to rest in between. This the principle of the Pomodoro technique, which breaks down work into intervals - traditionally 25-minute work blocks separated by 5-minute breaks. You can adapt this technique to fit the workplace by increasing the intervals; for example, take a break for 5 to 10 minutes every 3 hours. This will help ensure that you don’t crash and burn on your first day back.
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