The worst part of going on vacation is all the work that happens before and after. A recent survey by Harris Interactive found that 44% of employees dread the frenzy of activity on the last day of work before they leave on vacation. The only worse day, according to 77% of employees: the day they return.
Here’s good advice to pass on to your organization’s employees—simple tips to make sure the crush of work doesn’t snuff out the post-vacation glow.
1. Screen your calendar and to-do list the evening before you arrive back at work. Review the upcoming week, so you don’t have any surprises. If you scribbled anything down on scrap paper while you were away, transfer it to your calendar and to-do list now. That way, you can hit the ground running.
2. Get a head start on email. If possible, go through your email inbox before you return to the office.
First, scan for messages from bosses, clients and other high-priority people. Check to see whether any of those must be handled immediately. Make responding to them a priority on your to-do list.
Next, take all messages that you want to read (such as online newsletters) and either print them out for later reading and delete, or file them in an email folder so you can process them as a group.
If you’re facing tons of email, spread the task over several days.
3. Ask for a status update. If you work on a team or have staff that reports to you, make arrangements before you leave to have someone send you an email updating you on your projects. If you’ll be back on Monday, ask your co-worker to send the email on Friday afternoon. You’ll have a head start on your first-day priorities.
4. Be an early bird. Arrive before normal office hours to ensure you get some quiet time to organize your work and get your head back in the game. Now’s the time to return voicemail messages. Once co-workers begin arriving, you’ll be distracted.
5. Tackle paperwork right away. Sort all the snail mail and miscellaneous documents that piled up while you were away. Create a priority pile for anything with a deadline (e.g., invoices, events that require registration). Set aside a “later” pile for nonessential reading. Make liberal use of a shredding pile and a recycling pile.
6. Take your boss to lunch. It’s the perfect opportunity to catch up on projects and discuss important matters one-on-one.
7. Keep the vacation feeling alive. Before the end of your first day back, take a moment to savor something great about your vacation. Write down a memory you’ll cherish or the big idea you had. Download or scan a photo from your trip and make it your screen saver.
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