That post-vacay plunge

photo-171So I didn’t wind up taking a vacation away from home last week, though since it was a vacation from normal family responsibilities, there has been some transitioning involved. If you’ve gone away for a week (or two!) then you’re often coming home to a deluge of work.

How do you handle it?

I’m writing a short piece on handling that post-vacation plunge and I’m looking for tips. I know that some people come back at least a day before they officially start work in order to get some stuff processed (there’s something to be said for returning on Saturday from week-long trips generally — you can get laundry done, unpack, cope with jet-lag, etc). Others keep the out-of-office email on for an additional day so no new expectations hit the pile. Some simply delete everything, wagering that hey, if it’s really important, it will come back up. Some make sure to schedule something really fun after work that first day — to keep the vacation vibe going.

What works for you? Or do you just plunge in, like into a cold pool?

Photo: Tomato #1 for the season, plus basil. I actually dreamed last night that my carrots were ready for harvesting, though they weren’t…



12 Responses to That post-vacay plunge


  1. a friend does something I haven’t tried but works beautifully for her. On her first day back she goes to work only for the afternoon. She goes to work after lunch. That gets her over some of the backlog of to-do items, but also makes for an easier mental transition after time away.

  2. A says:

    I try to get into work very early the first day back when it’s all quiet and I can catch up on things before the deluge from the regular 8-5 folks start coming in. That first day is often very long, but I do try to be caught up within the first 48 hours or else you’re never caught up.

    • Laura says:

      @A – agree that figuring stuff out in first bit is probably helpful. But – a philosophical question, I suppose – if you’re “never” caught up, but life keeps on moving forward, did the catch up stuff need to happen…?

  3. Erin says:

    Very timely question. We returned from vacation on Saturday — and started the laundry/unpacking process then. On Sunday, I went into the office for a planned 4 hour session — but ended up staying almost 8. It was an extremely productive period and I am glad that I did this. However, I am not yet comfortable with this being a standard practice post-vacation.

    • Laura says:

      @Erin- I think the idea of coming back Saturday, and then working a few hours on Sunday, has a lot going for it.

  4. How funny, I somewhat touched on this subject in one of my recent blog posts:Vacationing, the good and bad.

    I normally try to get back a day early just to “feel at home again”. However before leaving I make sure there are certain things done around the house so I don’t play catch up in that arena.

  5. Jan Kelley says:

    One of the most important things about a vacation is to get away from the daily “clutter”, both literally and figuratively. I try to leave my house as neat a possible so that when I get home, I’m not distracted by house chores. I also try to allow a day of transition, so that I don’t have to go to work the next day. First, I get unpacked and start the laundry. While the laundry is going, I look at our vacation pictures and decide whether to print any and I look over the “treasures” I’ve returned with, putting them in the right places. Next I make the grocery list and get the shopping done.

    As these tasks are completed, I ready to ease into the first day at work. Before I left, I was sure to give me at least the morning to process what came to me during my vacation. I look over my accumulated email methodically, dispensing with the “fluff” quickly so that I can view the important messages methodically and efficiently. I do have to admit that I usually glance at email while I’m gone so that I don’t have any huge surprises waiting for me.

    Then it’s time for a coffee break! I reconnect with my staff and co-workers to get up to speed on developments during my absence. Usually by mid-afternoon on my first day back, I’m back in the flow of things.

    • Katherine says:

      We have a similar system, as far as leaving the house clean. (Or clean’ish). And we definitely return on a Saturday so we’re ready for a Monday work day. Helps a ton.

  6. Lynda Bascelli says:

    I always try to get a little bit of work done (maybe an hour or two) on the Sunday before returning to work after a vacation week, really just to get a handle on what is going to be important for me to address immediately upon my return. And I always make sure that I get in a workout (maybe a run or some yoga) on Monday morning so that I can better handle the inevitable stressors of that first day back — the exercise really helps to manage the anxiety!

    • Laura says:

      @Lynda – agreed that skipping exercise is not the right way to make up time on the first day back from vacation!

  7. Mainly I just mean to do things and end up feeling guilty about not doing them. Guess who just mostly wasted 4 days in a row (today was another jury duty day)? But I’ve tried it without the guilt and that ends up with me not even getting the little bit I planned to get done done, so…

  8. Jamie says:

    I agree with the comment about coming back a day before your return to work, although that one sometimes requires negotiation with my husband. I always, always try to come back with the laundry done — by the end of vacation (which sometimes brings a surfeit of togetherness), a little quiet time with a book in a laundromat might even feel like a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. This makes it easier for the kids to do their own unpacking. I make it a priority to get the unpacking done speedily too, so no one has a suitcase with a damp bathing suit moldering in a corner of the bedroom for a few days. This is all about home stuff rather than work stuff (I am on an academic schedule, so my vacations happen during times when my workload is lighter anyway), but I find that getting the house and the family back into real-life mode frees up my brain to think about work.

    For people who don’t live on the East Coast, planning a vacation to the east can make the transition back to a real-life schedule easier. If kids adjust to a vacation bedtime in the next time zone to the east, you can come home and tell them it’s bedtime an hour earlier (9pm in MI = 8pm in IA). That way you’re not feeling frustrated (and wishing you could put in some catch-up time on your work), waiting and waiting for their vacation-adjusted body clocks to send them off to sleep once you get back home.