4 steps to get you on track after time off

Life Lessons

4 steps to get you on track after time off

The best part of taking a vacation  isn’t necessarily the vacation itself. Yes, vacations do us good. But anticipating them makes us happy too, studies show.

Returning from time off, not as much, especially if stressors await us at work. What’s more, we’re less likely to be effective right after we get back. A 2014 study showed that even a day away from the operating room made surgeons less dextrous. Yikes.

Here are 4 ways to take the sting out of seeing your desk.

Before you go


Even if you like chaos, you’ll feel best if you put things in order before you head to Mexico. So organize your workspace and finish whatever you can before leaving. Then create a list of things you need to tend to when you return, marked by importance. Delegate what you can, and set out-of-office greetings to perhaps include an extra day so that callers and e-mailers are at ease if you take a while to respond.

Build in a buffer day (or two)

Give yourself at least one day between the end of your trip and your return to work so that you can sleep/do laundry/grocery shop. If you can tack on another day, even better. That way, instead of dreading the end of your carefree itinerary, you’ll anticipate going home because you’ll have a bit of fun-time to watch Netflix/take a yoga class/go for a walk/play video games.

When you return

Move slowly

Yes, you’ve got lots to do. But all you can do is the best you can do. Rushing won’t help. Neither will worrying about how much you’re not doing. One thing you can do: organize your email inbox.

Your first post-vacation day is one of the rare occasions you get a free pass to do things that might not be important or urgent . You’re bound to have a ridiculous number of emails. No way around it: You have to sift through them in order to find those that matter. So do it—and revel in the satisfaction of responding with only a few words, in the name of efficiency, and deleting many altogether. Feel free to sub in similar tasks.

Go with the flow

It’s simpler than you might realize to keep your cool. You just need a few tools to help recast your perception. Try these , and you’ll see. Annoyed or not, you have to get back to the grind. Might as well make the transition as pleasant as possible.

During her years as a full-time news journalist, Mitra Malek tried hard to organize her desk pre-vacation but didn’t always succeed. Thanks to her new gig handling content related to wellness, she does better.

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