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20 Jun

The only thing I want to give you before vacation

Datum: 2022-06-20 11:00
Hands, arms and hat of a woman lying on a beach relaxing. In the background,

The year’s first six months are com­ing to an end, and for many of us it is soon time for some kind of vaca­tion. Regard­less of the length of our time off we will soon­er or lat­er return to work, and by then a lot will have hap­pened dur­ing our absence.

We will have received quite a num­ber of e‑mails, col­leagues will have solved prob­lems which are actu­al­ly with­in our area of respon­si­bil­i­ty with­out our involve­ment, notes have been placed on our desk, we will have been asked to attend var­i­ous meet­ings, peo­ple have tried to get in touch with us and our voice-mail tells us that quite a few have asked us to get back to them as soon as possible”.

What was a need­ed and much appre­ci­at­ed break tran­si­tions into a fly­ing start where you have to hit the ground run­ning, and soon it might feel as if we nev­er had a vaca­tion at all.

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as an episode of the Done!” pod­cast:

A more pleas­ant start

But through­out the years I have found and been giv­en tips regard­ing a few things we can do to both get a more com­plete break from work as well as get a more pleas­ant start when we get back to the office. Here are a few tips which are the only thing I want to give you before you leave work for a vacation.

Do this

  • Do what you can to main­tain the relax­ation and feel­ing of vaca­tion for longer, even if you are back at work.
    • If you had a sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er tem­po when you were on vaca­tion, then be gen­tle with your­self for the first weeks back at the office. Take more breaks than you usu­al­ly would. Per­haps you choose to take a 5 minute break every hour for the first weeks back? Set the count­down timer on your phone for 55 min­utes and work until the bell rings and reminds you to relax a lit­tle. Do absolute­ly noth­ing dur­ing these five min­utes and they will feel longer. No social media, no chit-chat with col­leagues, no cof­fee, nothing.
    • If you enjoyed swim­ming dur­ing your vaca­tion, then put swimwear and a real­ly small tow­el in a plas­tic bag in your brief­case or car. Take a look at a map and see if there is an alter­na­tive route you could take home from work which allows you to pass by the ocean for a quick dip. It doesn’t have to take more than ten min­utes to stop by a cove, dive in, drift away for a few min­utes, get up, get dressed and head home. A few moments of vaca­tion on your way home.

      Do you live far from the ocean or a lake? Then find a mead­ow to lay on your back in for five min­utes dur­ing your way home. As long as it is not rain­ing a few min­utes of con­tem­pla­tion under the open sky is a kind of vaca­tion as well.
  • Reserve time to process e‑mails .
    Take out your cal­en­dar right now and reserve suf­fi­cient time dur­ing the first days back at work to process and deal with all the e‑mails you will have received. As long as you are not one of those who sim­ply delete all new e‑mails on the first day to start from scratch”, you will need to address them all one by one. And you will be wise to do so soon­er rather than lat­er.

    I usu­al­ly count on hav­ing to spend one full day on pro­cess­ing e‑mails for every week I have been out of the office. If you do not reserve time specif­i­cal­ly for pro­cess­ing you e‑mails, you risk hav­ing too many meet­ings sched­uled dur­ing the first days back (mean­ing that you will bare­ly have time to open the inbox at all), and then you will end up hav­ing to car­ry an old-emails-to-process-back­pack for the next few weeks.
  • Reserve time for tasks and meet­ings.
    You might already be aware of cer­tain to-do-tasks and meet­ing which you sim­ply have to get done or attend dur­ing your first weeks back at the office. Sched­ule the meet­ings now in the cal­en­dar and also reserve a suf­fi­cient num­ber of hours for your­self to com­plete the impor­tant tasks you know have to be done.

    If you have already sched­uled much of what will hap­pen dur­ing the first weeks, you can relax a lit­tle know­ing that there is enough time and space to do what needs to be done then with­out wor­ry­ing that you will have to spend the first work­week plan­ning things last minute and there­by imme­di­ate­ly feel­ing stressed.
  • Take out mate­r­i­al your col­leagues might need while you are away.
    Final­ly, think about what your col­leagues might need from all your dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal mate­r­i­al when you are away. Take out any papers, fold­ers and binders you think of and put them on your desk where they will be easy to find. Send short­cuts and URLs to the col­leagues who are cov­er­ing for you. This sig­nif­i­cant­ly decreas­es the risk of receiv­ing incon­ve­nient calls when lay­ing on the beach some­where regard­ing where that one doc­u­ment is”.

Less stress and in control

If you ded­i­cate just a few moments now, before going on vaca­tion, to do one or a few of these things, you will be repaid plen­ti­ful­ly lat­er. You will not be inter­rupt­ed as often dur­ing your vaca­tion and the start-up peri­od once it is over will be smoother. What could have been a few ter­ri­bly accel­er­at­ing days filled with stress will instead be some­thing you feel you can han­dle with­out get­ting stressed or tense.

What is your way?

How do you ensure that you get to enjoy your vaca­tion more thor­ough­ly by hav­ing good struc­ture? Share your thoughts with me.

(Did you know that tak­ing a delib­er­ate, whole­heart­ed break ben­e­fits your per­son­al pro­duc­tiv­i­ty?)

If you want more tips on how to create good structure at work, there are many ways to get that from me - in podcasts, videos, books, talks and other formats.

Yes, please, give me more tips!