Even if you LOVE your job, it’s common to feel a little deflated when you return to work after a summer holiday. Going back to the office after a couple of weeks in the sun can be a stressful experience – often, it can seem like you haven’t been away at all.
To combat this, we’ve put together seven ways to beat the post-holiday blues – before you actually go anywhere. Take a look at our ideas below to get started before you jet off:
Avoid the last-minute panic
Ever felt that last-minute panic to get everything done before you leave? This probably happens for a number of reasons – we don’t want to dump our work on others, we want to head off on holiday without worrying about what we’re leaving behind, and we want to know what we’re coming back to.
Not only is it unrealistic to tick everything off, it’s probably unnecessary too. If you’ve planned your break in advance, prioritise your workload to make sure you complete the tasks that need doing ahead of time – and make a list of the things that can wait until you return.
If you’ve got important deadlines in your final week before you head off, ask your colleagues for support on the other tasks that are taking up your time. Ticking off your top-of-the-list jobs before you leave will help you begin your holiday feeling less stressed, and you’ll return to work knowing that the ‘big’ tasks have already been taken care of.
Give yourself a head-start
It’s tempting to avoid difficult, dull or time-consuming tasks before a holiday, and instead put them out of your mind until you return. They’re the jobs that have been on your to-do list for a while – the ones you’ve been ‘saving’ for another time. If possible, try to complete these kinds of tasks before you go away, and save some of the tasks you know you’ll enjoy for when you return. You’ll feel more relaxed when you leave, because you’ll have accomplished something you hadn’t been looking forward to (and you’ll feel less overwhelmed when you come back).
If it’s not possible to complete these tasks before you head off, plan out how you’ll get started on them when you return. Having your ideas in one place could help in making the task seem more achievable and less daunting, and you’ll know exactly where to begin when you’re back in the office.
Plan your first day back
The first day back at work after a holiday can be hectic; trudging through emails, endlessly returning calls, and trying to remember what the hell you were working on before you went away.
To avoid this, make a note of everything you’ve been working on in the weeks or days leading up to your break, and summarise the next steps that need to be taken from there. What do you want (and need) to achieve on your first few days back in the office? Which tasks will be picked up by others, and what do you expect to return to? Write up a concise plan you can refer to when you return, so you’ll know what your first day back looks like before you set off.
Get on top of your inbox
How do you spend your first few hours (or days) back in the office? It’s likely that a huge chunk of your time is dedicated to trawling through your inbox, to make sure you haven’t missed anything important.
Before you go, try to get on top of your emails. Ditch any messages you don’t need (or file any that you do) to reduce the number of emails you’ll have to wade through in the future. If your colleagues are happy to respond to certain queries or questions on your behalf while you’re away, ask them for their support.
Give your regular contacts (internal and external) ample notice of when (and how long) you’ll be away, and provide the contact details of any colleagues they can get in touch with during this period. It’ll help you avoid returning to a mountain of emails, and it’ll ensure things are dealt with while you’re out of the office.
Have a clear out
If you’ve got a few free hours before you set your out-of-office, why not use the time to have a clear out? It’s a great opportunity to get rid of the things you don’t need, and make your office space more appealing to return to.
Once you’ve tidied up your inbox, archive any digital files you want to hang on to (and get rid of those you don’t). If you’ve got filing cabinets, shelves or desk drawers full of paperwork, spend some time sifting through it all. You’ll probably end up throwing a lot of it away, or you might stumble upon something amazing you’d forgotten all about. Either way, you’ll come back to an organised work environment – and ready to get started on the plan you’ve written up.
Avoid rushing back too soon
When booking a holiday, it’s tempting to stretch it out for as long as possible. You might end up coming home on the last day of your booked leave, meaning you’re heading back to the office straight away. This alone can cause unnecessary stress; you’re tired, your suitcase looks like it’s exploded on your bedroom floor, and the beach suddenly seems like a distant memory.
If possible, try not to rush back too soon. Give yourself an extra day or two to relax – catch up on some sleep, do the things you need to do at a leisurely pace, and reflect on the things you loved about your break. You’ll come back to work feeling less frazzled (and ready to share your holiday stories with your colleagues!)
Don’t feel guilty for taking a well-deserved break
The 2015 Glassdoor Annual Leave Survey found that the average UK employee only took three-quarters of their annual leave. The most common reason for this? 11% of participants said they feared ‘getting behind’ on their work while they were away.
No one should feel guilty about taking time off. We all need time away to recharge and do the things we love, and any good employer will encourage their people to take regular breaks. If you’re feeling anxious about the work you’re leaving behind, speak to your colleagues about how they could help you. Remind yourself of the things that can wait until you return, and seek support on the tasks that you need help with before you leave. Most importantly, take a well-deserved break – and enjoy your summer holiday!
For more information on holiday entitlement rights in the UK, visit the gov.uk page here.