I’ve touched on the challenges of returning from a vacation. Today I’ll take a few moments to help you prepare to get your brain back in the game after a holiday. The primary difference, obviously, is that everyone or nearly everyone in your workplace takes the day off on a holiday, which is an advantage because it’s not just you who’s slow to get back up to regular operating speed, but everyone. That won’t last long, however.
Time off allows you to unwind and think about something–ideally–besides work. By the time your work week starts, usually on a Monday, you’ve had a chance to clear your mind of tasks that were stressing you out prior to the holiday. The tension might be reduced, but that doesn’t mean the work has gone away. You might need to spend your first day back at work catching up on emails, voice messages, and face-to-face discussions with your leaders, peers, or subordinates.
The good news about returning from extended holidays is that the first day back is often that way for everyone around you. Depending on the amount of relaxing you or your peers did while away from work, you might or might not be 100% on your game yet. The usual grace period for this returning-from-holiday recovery is, at most, a day. Think of Monday as your get-back-in-gear day. By the end of the day, you should be prepared for the rest of the week. You might not be, but you can usually expect your leaders or peers to throw new work at you by the end of that first day or the beginning of the next day.
This is a generalization, of course. Sometimes, people come back from their holiday so relaxed and refreshed that they’re ready to jump back into full-speed operations as soon as they turn on their computer. Sometimes that person is your boss, in which case they might not be quite as tolerant of your I’m-still-on-vacation mindset.
Then again, maybe you are that person. You took the time off to really chill out, and when you come back, you’re brimming with new ideas and all sorts of questions for others about work you have pending or work to come. In that case, you’re the one who’s going to need to slow down and give others a chance to catch up.
I’d say, conservatively, you and the people around you will be back to regular operations within a few hours of arriving back in the office. By the time your lunch is finished, reality will have reasserted itself. So when you show up for work on your first day after a shared holiday, allow yourself and others a little time to get back up to speed…then it’s back to work. Those documents won’t write and edit themselves. Not even mine.