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Sunday
Aug232009

Returning from Vacation

If you feel that you need a vacation to recover from your vacation, try these steps next time you take a trip.

So many people don’t plan well before their vacation. It’s a bit like throwing everything into the closets when company is coming. If you don’t plan well for your trip, you’ve tossed everything not related to your trip into the closet. When you open that closet door the day you return from vacation, everything comes tumbling out – unpaid bills, piled up phone messages, mountains of email, looming deadlines at home, at school and at work. Coming home can be a time of dread rather than a time to savor the vacation and enjoy the last night before resuming your daily routine.

As with almost any challenge, pre-planning is the key. Just as a good day begins the night before with a good bedtime routine, a good return-from-vacation starts with pre-vacation planning.

Life generally runs more smoothly if you don’t stick your head in the sand about tasks that need to be done shortly after your return. So, in preparing for re-entry, use this checklist BEFORE you head off on your trip:

  1. Write checks for all personal bills that are due shortly after your return. That way you can just pop them in the mail when you get back – no need for stressful late-night catching up on unpaid bills when you come back.
  2. Create an organized, PRIORITIZED to-do list at work – waiting for you on you’re CLEARED OFF desk when you return.
  3. Do a review of all important work-related tasks that are pending the week after your vacation.
    • Delegate any tasks that you can to others on your team that will be in town during your absence.
    • Arrange to communicate by email during your trip if any work other team members do needs your review or approval.
  4. Set aside limited time (no more than 30 minutes) each day to review email during your absence. Returning to a mountain of email, some of which is urgent or overdue, creates a highly stressful re-entry.
  5. Delegate any urgent tasks that come up during your absence by forwarding urgent emails to your designated back-up person.
  6. Use the inevitable wait times associated with travel for productivity. Instead of sleeping on the plane or wandering through airport shops between flights, use this valuable time for important reading, writing or planning.
  7. Use vacation time as time to think about your work life and home life from a big picture perspective. Use long walks on the beach, or peaceful evenings gazing at the surf as time to re-evaluate the big items in your life. So often, the frantic flow of daily life keeps us from having time to look at the big picture and make important changes.

Try these steps next time you’re out of town – whether on business or pleasure. You’ll have a calmer and more productive re-entry at home, at work and at school.

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