Tuesday, 25 August 2015

OFFICE SURVIVAL ACADEMY: HOW TO GET BACK TO THE OFFICE AND GET THINGS UNDER CONTROL AFTER TAKING SOME TIME OFF

It's that time of the year again! Getting your days off (and I do hope that you do – not using your vacation days is like telling your manager that you are paid way too much and would love some surprise unpaid overtime), so you finally can sleep in, read that book sitting on your table for ages and go to the wilderness/beach/most amazing city in the world for two care-free, adventure-heavy weeks.

But, as awesome as all that is, you have to come back to the office at some point. Awwww... Do I really have to? I know that pain, so let me make it a bit easier for you with some tips I gathered and tested out for you:

Before leaving

1. LEAVE ALL YOUR PROJECTS FINISHED, EMAILS READ AND REPORTS HANDED IN AND YOUR OUT OF OFFICE MESSAGE ON

Work like crazy if you have to, but don't leave any unfinished business that will blow up in your face when you come back from your perfect vacation. It's easier to tune in when you have new projects coming in just in time when you are back in the office. Any overdue work will just make you feel tired, overwhelmed and stressed and that is just not a good start for anyone.

2. DELEGATE

Try and find someone that can fill in for you in case of emergency. Be nice and don't leave them with any actual work that needs a lot of time and resources on a daily basis (because that is just mean, they will probably not do it anyway and you can get in trouble for trying to be sneaky), but prepare and send them an email listing things that you worked on and when to find all the information on those if needed. Leaving your email and computer password with your manager is also a great idea (and it will save you calls and texts if anyone needs urgent access to your laptop).

3.MAKE A TO-DO LIST (AND EMAIL IT TO YOURSELF)

If there is anything that you can't possibly complete before you leave, make a list of everything that you need to do when you get back (with details such as who you should email/call, adresses where you need to send things, websites that you need to update). Don't pretend that you will remember everything (because let's face it, there is no way that you will or even will want to). With that list you will have a head start and you will be able to make sure that everything goes as planned – stress free.

4. CLEAN YOUR DESK

It's just nicer to come back to an uncluttered, fresh space rather than to a chaotic mess. You will probably forget where you left that super important post-it with the phone number of that guy that was meant to do the thing, so make sure that you organize everything on and in your desk before you leave and that you get rid of everything you don' need anymore. For the sake of your future self.

While on vacation

5. SEND A POSTCARD TO THE OFFICE (AND LEAVE YOUR PHONE OFF, DON'T CHECK EMAILS AND TEXTS EVERY 5 SECONDS)

Why send a postcard? Because it's a nice thing to do, it brings a five minute chill to the office and it gets people a conversation point when you get back. You will have an easier time to relax at work if you still have memories of everything great that just happened to you at the back of your head and a postcard to prove it on the wall. Also, seriously, it's called vacation for a reason - leave your phone off or on mute. Lives are not at stake here and your boss can live without that report for the next few days.

When you get back to the office

6. LEAVE YOUR OUT OF OFFICE MESSAGE ON IN THE MORNING

Everyone knows that you are in, but leaving your out of office tune out there for a little bit you will get some breathing space and you will be able to deal with the most pressing things. Use the extra time to go through your emails. Do it first thing in the morning, so you catch up on everything that happened when you were off. If you sort the emails by person, you will have an option to read all of the messages and you won't respond to something that was resolved a couple of days ago. With every email that you read do one of 4 things straight away: delete, do nothing, respond immediately, flag so you can do it later (do not overuse this option, it's only for big things that will really take more than 20 – 30 minutes of your time). You will feel much better with an empty inbox, knowing what is going on around you.

7. LEAVE THE OFFICE ON TIME

As tempting as it may seem, staying late on your first day back will probably crush your holiday vibe and make you feel drained. Leave on time even if that means completing your work tomorrow. Give yourself some credit and relax. You just came back after a long absence and it is perfectly normal that you have a lot of things to do.

8. BOOK YOUR NEXT HOLIDAY AND ARRANGE SOME SIMPLE PLEASURES

Give in and book your next time off. Why? Because it will make you feel better, you will have something to look forward to and it will give you a boost of motivation during your first week back. Get your favorite tea and cookies and stash them in your desk, go to the cinema, find some way to enjoy your time back!

Have fun and remember - you can do it!

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