Back on the clock.


Summer speeds by, and now my own summer vacation is past tense. While on hiatus from the office, I tried to carve out quality time with family, decelerate and disconnect.

My method must have worked too well. When I showed up for work, my body wasn’t quite ready to quit the holiday. I felt anxious over the thought of opening my inbox and facing a full plate.

Turns out, anxiety surrounding taking a break and then returning from one is pretty common. According to the 2017 State of American Vacation Report, “Stress over returning to ‘a mountain of work’ is the most common reason employees forfeit their vacation days.”

Employers, Break Ahead

Taking earned vacation is vitally important, not just for an employee’s well-being, but also for the company’s health. I agree with the majority of managers who say that vacation improves employees’ health and well-being (82%), boosts morale (82%), and alleviates burnout (81%). In addition, the benefits to the company are obvious: 78% say that vacation improves employees’ focus upon return, 70% agree it renews employees’ commitment to their job, and 64% feel it makes employees more willing to put in long hours when they are needed.

Employers, your employees need better tools to cope with post-vacation stressers. My five tips below will help people feel more supported upon returning, and, more importantly, encourage them to take much-needed breaks in the first place.

Solopreneurs, You Also Need Down Time

I hope you get the chance to take deserved time off this summer, or whenever you’re on the brink of burnout. As my fellow entrepreneurs and solopreneurs deeply understand, while working for yourself is awesome, it’s super difficult to draw boundaries between home life and work life — downtime and what feels like all of the time. That’s why transitioning from holiday brain back to work mode is nothing compared to the confidence it takes to step away and unplug in the first place.

5 Ways to Get Back in the Groove

Bottom line, you should take vacations, no matter what. You are doing a disservice to literally everyone with your workaholic tendencies. The following five tips will help you transition from vacation mode back into real life — Just don’t expect zero pain. I’m not a miracle worker!

  1. Schedule in a buffer day between vacation and returning to the office. Take care of household chores, like grocery shopping and laundry, so they’re not looming overhead when back at work.

  2. Clean up your inbox before vacation ends. Avoid a total deluge of emails on your first day back.

  3. Don’t overschedule yourself the first week. Eeeeease back into the swing of things.

  4. Leverage the power of the Sharing Economy. If you run your own business, give work to colleagues. Because projects didn’t come to a grinding halt while you were gone, take comfort in knowing that revving up again won’t be so tough.

  5. Make that vacation feeling last. Use time off to establish better boundaries and habits when you return (regular dinners at home and no-work weekends are two areas I personally need to address)

Reality Check

Too bad I’m just realizing now that I could have taken a few measured steps to ease the transition back into real life. With a little self-awareness and proactive planning, my hope is that you take breaks in the first place, and when you do return, that adjusting back to the routine will be no major deal.

What do you do to soften the blow of a return to work after time away?