Returning from vacation begins for most with a feeling like we’re already behind the 8 ball. We’re probably suffering from those post holiday blues of leaving paradise and returning to the reality of everyday life. We’ve suffered through our morning commute, the whole time knocking around in our brains what needs to be done once we arrive at the office. While I don’t claim to be a time management expert, I can only share what works for me.
For starters, make sure that there’s nothing lingering that prevents others from being productive. If people have been waiting on your arrival for an answer to their question so they can move forward with a project of their own, get those types of issues handled first. If there is a technical problem that requires your assistance, run that through your triage protocol to assess its importance to the organization and determine whether that is something that needs to be done right away or is something that you can put on your schedule for later.
Next, hit your voice mail system and remove any vacation message that you may have put on and revert to your standard greeting. Go through your voice mail messages and prioritize what needs your attention first.
Email can be a daunting task, especially when returning from an extended vacation when you’ve cut the cord. Chances are, 80% or more is crap like spam and other offers or communication that isn’t an “action required” message. Normally, each morning I start with the newest message and go backwards until I’m caught up. When returning from vacation however, I like to find out where I was last in my email and move forward. This can be beneficial if you’ve received multiple communications from the same person or groups of people on the same topic, so you are reading them in context. Delete the spam, bypass the stuff you want to read but doesn’t require action and flag the items that you need to work on. Then once you’ve gotten through the entire list, revisit your flagged items and begin prioritizing and responding to the messages that require action.
The image you want to project when returning to the office after any period of time is that you’ve got your “head in the game”, you’re refreshed and ready to work.