Terri Hughes Blog

Coming back from Vacation...The Right Way

Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ahhh… that happy holiday glow.  Sleeping late, parties with friends and family, solitude if you’re lucky.  You savor the relaxed feeling. Then comes the first Monday in January.  Back at work, trying to catch up and moaning with all your co-workers about how much work is waiting.  “Holidays were great, but too fast, and now I’m crazy busy.”  And of course, you’re busier than anyone else… Holiday glow is gone…Inescapable.

I heard the story over and over the past two weeks.  It reminded me to share a great post from the Harvard Business Review Blog Network by Peter Bregman, titled, “The Right Way to Come Back From Vacation”.  He has identified a fantastic 3-step plan that works!!  Here’s his fresh perspective:

“What's the right way to come back from vacation?

First, let your last night before work still be vacation, or at least your personal time. Don't open your email or check your voice-mail. Unpack, do laundry, make your kids' lunches if you have kids and they need lunches — but don't get back to work until you're back at work.

Then, on your first day back from vacation, try this three-step plan for not only getting back into the swing of things but taking some of the vacation with you:

1. Ready: Who are you at your best? Before you listen to that first voice-mail, sit quietly for a minute, and think about what you most liked about yourself on vacation. Was it the relaxed way you listened to the people you were with? Maybe it was the time you allowed your mind to wander? Perhaps it was the way you immersed yourself in each moment because you weren't distracted by constantly checking email on your phone? Maybe it was your patience, your generosity, or the ease with which you slipped into laughter?

Write down a few of your observations and keep the list close. The busier we get, the less we cultivate the aspects of ourselves we value so deeply because they aren't necessarily efficient.

But they are us — possibly some of the most important parts — and leaving them back on vacation diminishes who we are. Which weakens us, reducing our energy, creativity, and effectiveness. Not to mention our pleasure.

The solution? Become less efficient. Which means you will get less done. Which, ironically, will make you more productive, as long as you choose the right things to get done.

2. Set: What Is your focus for the year?
In order to get the right things done, we need a filter to help us decide what not to get done. Identify the most important things you want to focus on for the year. Every year I choose five major things on which I want to spend 95% of my time.

My five things form a lens through which I focus on the world. Without them, everything would be a blur. With them, I can distinguish what's important — and worth my time and attention — from what's not.

Before touching a post-vacation email, look at your list of five and connect with the priorities that will make this year productive, meaningful, and fulfilling for you. Remind yourself what's important.

3. Go: What are you going to do? It's a good idea to block out your first morning back from vacation — or the first day if you can — to go through what's waiting for you. Don't rush this — it's the most strategic thing you can do.

It will be hard to resist the temptation to try to get it all done. But if something doesn't fit into one of your five areas of focus, defer it to someone more appropriate, politely decline it, or, if you can, simply ignore it. This goes for items of personal interest as well as business.

Your first day back will set the tone for the new post-vacation you, so build yourself into your schedule. Look at your "Who are you at your best?" list and bring that person back to work with you. Block an hour for lunch with colleagues. Take a ten-minute walk in the morning and one in the afternoon to allow your mind to wander. Listen to someone else's story with attentiveness. You'll have the time to do those things if you haven't over-scheduled that first day.

This doesn't just have to be your first day back from vacation plan; it can be your everyday plan. Each morning, look at your "Who are you at your best?" list and recommit to bringing that person from vacation to the office. Then look at your 'What is your Focus for the Year?' list and process your work through that filter, making strategic choices about what to do, and what not to, scheduling your day so you have time to be yourself at your best.”

Thanks Peter! Great advice… The Right Way to Come Back From Vacation


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