The holidays are upon us. I’m sure a lot of you have been busy buying gifts, spending time with the family and maybe going on vacations. Regardless of what you are doing this season, what happens next after the relaxation and all the lazy days doing nothing will be the same: you need to drag yourself back to the office and work. It’s kind of depressing when you think of it that way, right?

Going back to work seems like an excruciating ordeal after a long vacation. Instead of desperately trying to prolong your vacation though, I think it would be wiser if you tackle something within your control: minimizing the aversion you feel towards going back to work.

The Problem with Long Holidays

Most of the time, people start feeling stressed during the last couple of days of a long vacation, you know, the last few days of fun before reality sinks in. And it doesn’t stop there; stress can affect the vacation itself when you let your worries about work invade your thoughts so that instead of having fun with your family, all you can think about are the emails piling up in your inbox.

The next time you go on a long vacation, learn to separate the stress from relaxation – even if going back to work is inevitable. Here’s how:

Get Extra Days before Going Back to Work

Don’t go back to work immediately after a long vacation. Although it’s tempting to spend every bit of your vacation as far from work as possible, it’s not really a good idea. Spending a couple of days at home before going back to work gives you a buffer, which gives you time to unpack and get acclimated to your usual routine. It also gives you time to catch up on correspondence and prepare for the coming week.

Plan the Week

Planning for the coming week after a long vacation minimizes missed deadlines, unpaid bills and a lot of the back and forth exchanges with everyone around you. Make a list of things you need to do, house chores, people to meet, gifts to return, urgent work, etc. Check your organizer and plan all tasks accordingly, prioritizing tasks with the biggest impact; that is, don’t spend your first day back reading holiday emails if you have a project due tomorrow.

Read Emails Slowly but Surely

Is your work email piling up? I know it’s easy to go on leave, knowing that the auto responder you set up will send an automatic reply in your absence. The auto responder won’t be enough, because it won’t do your work for you! Eventually, you’ll have to read and reply to those emails.

I know it can be tempting to read emails while doing something else, say, if you’re bored at a party or if you have a minute while waiting for everyone to come down for dinner. But don’t do it. The chances of you misunderstanding an email is higher, especially if you’re multi-tasking, doubly so if you’re multi-tasking while having a glass of wine! You don’t want to send an inappropriate reply to your colleagues, right? And even if you don’t misunderstand what you’re reading, the email might get accidentally deleted. My advice is to wait until you have the time to focus on reading and responding to your emails.

Set Reasonable Expectations

The week after a long vacation will be busy. You’ll probably spend the whole week settling in and catching up with work, so do not add more stress by setting unrealistic expectations. The week may not be very productive, but make it better by setting goals that are within your power. Use this time instead to get an extra boost of confidence by catching up and completing your to-do list. After that, you’ll have more confidence to face the onslaught of work waiting for you.


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Paul Bailey

Paul is a highly experienced Business Coach, Mentor and Personal Development Specialist. He works with people to enhance business and personal performance through a process of supported self-awareness and self- development. Paul is the Co-Author of the book 80 Tips.