Reentry

by Cynthia Kay

So you did it? You booked a vacation and you are actually going to leave your business. For many small business owners taking a vacation is scary. What if a customer needs you? What if a project gets derailed and your team needs you? What if nobody needs you or for that matter does not even notice that you are gone?

That’s really scary!

A great deal has been written about the benefits of taking a vacation. We know that people who plan to take time off are healthier, manage stress better and are more productive when they are at work. Still many American workers do not take regularly scheduled vacations. The reasons are varied. Many feel they have too much to do. In fact, according to a 2014 report by Oxford Economics www.projecttimeoff.com , “Nearly four out of 10 employees state they have too much work to take PTO, and 13 percent do not take leave due to the accumulation of work that would be faced upon return.”

I relate well to that. I took time off recently and came back to a mound of e-mails, work that had piled up and requests for meetings. Reentry to the flow of work was not easy. So I decided to do some thinking about what I might do differently. Here are a few things.

Buffer Time

I got off the plane from my vacation and went right to work. A better plan would have been to return a day early and get settled back in. This would have provided a buffer that would have eased reentry.

Schedule Light

Before I left I crammed my first few days back with meetings. That left no time to catch up on office work and get back up to speed on projects that were underway. I think it is important to schedule your first few days back a little lighter or you will undo all the positive effects that you experience from time away. Your stress level can go right back to pre-vacation days if you overschedule.

Reprioritize the Work

Before I left for vacation I had a list of what needed to be done upon my return. That’s a great idea and but things change. One of the first things you should do is a reality check. Take a block of time and see what needs to be addressed on an urgent basis and what can wait. This time of year it’s a moving target. People are on vacation. Deadlines change. There are delays. See what needs to float to the top of the list so you can stay on track.

Get Back to Basics

This I did well. My first few days back I made sure to get back on a regular exercise and sleep schedule. While vacations are great, they can upset the routine that your body and mind craves. I got back to the gym to ramp up my energy level. And after eating out so much, cooking at home was relaxing and healthier.

Vacations are important and we need time to reconnect with family and friends. A little pre-planning for your reentry will help you keep that vacation “glow” a little longer.

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