You’re back from some much needed summer R&R. You’re in that weird state where your post-vacation joy is mixing not-so-subtly with your back-to-the-grind blues. While you’re scrolling through a flooded inbox for the first time in a week, you can take some comfort in knowing that you’re a part only 50% of American workers who actually took a vacation. It’s sad, but true. And what’s worse is nearly a third of workers don’t take vacations because they fear they’ll fall behind in work. Well we think that’s a sorry excuse! There are plenty of smart ways to disconnect without derailing your productivity. And there’s a great way to plan out your first day back without missing a beat. Here are a few ways to make your post-vacation Monday a productive one.
Sunday, 8pm: Jog your Memory
Okay, we know your instinct is to squeeze out every minute of vacation that you can. And it’s well deserved. But spending 30 minutes to an hour the night before you head back to work to remind yourself of where you left off can go a long way when you return to work the next day. You don’t need to open your inbox, or turn on your messaging apps. But just start thinking about where your projects were left, and write down where you expect things to be after this much time has passed. This can go a long way to be productive on your first day back.
Monday, 9am: Make your Rounds
The morning you’re back, make your rounds with everyone who you normally work with on a regular basis. If you work in an office, stop by co-workers’ desks. If you work remotely or are working on a project with outside partners, schedule a call for the morning you return. Spend 10 to 15 minutes catching up on what you missed while you were out. Ask what they think immediately needs your attention. This way, you can better prioritize your first few days back, and save yourself from independently reading through every single email trying to gauge what’s most important. Because within the week you were gone, an urgent problem on Monday could have been solved by Friday. And your colleagues will know this!
10am: Block Out “Me” Time
Prioritizing your time is a must to re-enter the working world. So after catching up with your team and colleagues on what you missed, block out a two or three-hour window in your schedule. Use this time to read, skim, or delete emails, and to jot down a to-do list based on the information you’ve gathered so far. Be clear with your colleagues that you need a few hours without distraction before hearing about what’s coming up next. This prevents any not-so-vital tasks from piling up and distracting you from getting back on track.
1pm: Recap your Missed Meetings and Calls
If you took our advice about preparing for your time out of the office, you would have asked all your team to record the meetings you missed. So when you check in with them, ask them about the meeting(s) they think were the most important, and listen through those recordings first. Stay focused, take notes, and follow up with team members with any questions/thoughts you have afterward. If your team hasn’t recorded the meetings/calls (tsk, tsk), schedule time for a meeting review. Ask for their take on the meetings in their own words, and to share any notes taken.
3pm: Create a Smart To-Do List
After catching up on all your missed emails and meetings, you’ve probably jotted down a million and one things to do. So spend the last few hours of your first day back (with a coffee in hand) making a smart and very detailed to-do list. Using a task management software like Trello can make the process a whole lot easier. You can assign dates, categories, and even tag people to the task. Adding in these details will help you tackle the most important tasks first, and well as communicate to the relevant people that their task is on your radar. Then they’re not hounding you throughout the week to make sure their message was received, and you can leave feeling organized about the next few days to come.
5pm: Well done, you’ve made it through the most painful Monday of the year!