As I cast my mind back to when I was young, summer holidays were always a thing of awe and beauty: six weeks without school – something that could only be topped by getting Castle Greyskull for Christmas.
It was always a pretty big deal, but at the end of all that time off, there was always that sense that you were ready to get back into the fold. In the same way that you ramp down as you head off on your holidays, you do get to the point where it starts to naturally ramp up again. There’s only so much down-time your brain is prepared to take before you start to think about getting back to daily business.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when your fingers start to wander back to your smartphone, when reading the guidebook you start seeing the mountain of email you expect in your inbox, when the postcards in the souvenir shops you walk by remind you of the Post-its lining your desk.
Taking time away from the job requires discipline
It’s not easy going from 100 to 0 but, over the years, I’ve learnt that cutting yourself off entirely for a couple of weeks will make you be more positive about going back to work after a proper break. It’s all too easy to sneak a peek at your phone to quickly check your emails so “there aren’t so many when I get back”, but the reality of the situation is that the holiday you’ve been looking forward to for months is being killed off by a distinct lack of discipline on your part. STOP IT.
Don’t ruin the final few days of your holidays by easing yourself into your inbox. Stay strong and keep your email turned off and definitely don’t start plundering through them on Sunday night thinking it’s going to make a difference. They can wait a couple of hours longer.
Think about your return before you go on holidays
Be sensible and don’t block your first day back in the office with a bunch of meetings you’ll be totally unprepared for. Instead allow yourself time to get your head around your inbox. Sit down, take a deep breath and suck it up. Once you’ve figured it all out, you’ll be well on the road to normality.
Bring a treat to sweeten the office
It’s not just kids that appreciate a holiday stick of rock from their friends. Something sweet or savoury from your destination will get your colleagues excited about your return and give a boost to the weekly team kick-off.
Keep a part of your holiday going all year long
So think about your holiday as your own personal reboot. Take that well-deserved break, cut work out of your life completely for a couple of weeks, prepare your return in advance and I can assure you, you’ll come back better and stronger than ever before.