How to Ease Back Into Work After a Vacation

Returning to work after a vacation can be, well, depressing. Your once-clean desk may now be cluttered with memos, your email box is likely full, and your mind is a million miles away. Instead of feeling sad about being back, try these practical strategies for a smooth “re-entry.”

  • The day before you’re back, check email from home to get an overview of what’s happened. If you’re up for it, delete out-of-date messages. You might also contact a coworker to learn what you’ve missed. That way there should be few surprises awaiting you.
  • Decide to return to work with a “can-do,” high-energy attitude. Remember that you like your job—and you like it even better now that you’ve had a refreshing break. 
  • Start back on a Tuesday. You’ll avoid the “Monday morning blues” and have a short work week to look forward to. 
  • Get in early your first day so you can sort through mail, written messages, and e-mail you didn’t deal with the day before. This will help you slip into a “work” mindset before others arrive.  
  • Cancel your email autoresponder and record over your voicemail away message.  
  • Review your calendar to see where the red flags are—upcoming meetings, urgent project deadlines, etc. Figure out what must be tackled immediately and what can wait. 
  • Pad in extra time to projects wherever possible—that is, give yourself room to under promise and over deliver.
  • Touch base with everyone who covered for you, and sit down with the boss to chat about your time away and to let him or her know where everything stands.
  • Don’t work late your first day back. You want to avoid the burnout you may have experienced before you left.  
  • Share vacation stories with co-workers, put vacation pictures on your wall, and place a souvenir on your desk to remind you of the good time you had. 

Plan some “fun” time—lunch with friends or co-workers, a movie, even planning a future vacation, so you have something to look forward to.