The week of the 4th is great time to take off. In fact, according to WikiAnswers, it is THE most popular vacation week of the year. So I’m going to assume that for most of you, the margarita at the pool or beach is now a distant memory as you dig out of what you tried to ignore last week. So here’s a few tips on trying to stay in your vacation zone a little bit longer:
1. Tackle one thing at a time. Looking at your emails, checking voicemails, and trying to go through all the mail that stacked up can melt your vacation mood faster than a Popsicle in Phoenix. Don’t even look at everything. Decide which is the most important and do just that. Make that your Day 1 task and try to stick to it.
2. Organize your emails. Chances are you kept your smart phone with you, but I’m sure you still came back to hundreds of emails you chose to ignore last week. Start by sorting them by sender, subject or the ones you were only CC’d. You can quickly delete the ones you know you don’t need to read. You can move all the “copied only” emails to a folder and read those on your next vacation when you run out of books to read. If done right, you should be down to a manageable number.
3. Don’t schedule meetings for your first day back. The only way to do this successfully is to block off your calendar before you leave. Put in an all day meeting or add a day of vacation so no one thinks you’re back until the following day. Sometimes it can’t be helped, but nothing will create vacation amnesia faster that having back-to-back meetings your first day back.
4. Meditate. You don’t need to be the Dalai Lama to take 5 or 10 minutes 3 or 4 times a day to just close your eyes and breath. It will calm you down and help reduce the anxiety so many of us feel when we get back. Close the door, dim the lights, turn off the phones and just breathe.
5. Call your favorite person and go out to lunch. It can be a client, a friend, or a colleague. Pick someone who always makes you laugh and go out of the building for lunch. It’s so tempting to lock yourself away and eat at your desk to try to catch up, but avoid the temptation and do something fun. All that work waited while you were gone. It can wait for another hour.
Taking time off is critical for your health. Study after study shows that we are more engaged and productive when we regularly shut down and leave work at the office. But if you carry the office with you on vacation or let the workload get to you when you get back, what was the point?