That post-Labor Day laze can be especially hard to shake as summer fizzles to a close and the dark workdays of winter loom ever closer, but getting absolutely nothing done during the workday will only make you feel a lot worse. Here are a few quick tips to help prevent the bummed-out “summer’s over and never coming back” blues induced by no longer being on some beach somewhere and being back on the clock, instead.
Turn off the OOO email and calendar schedulers that you set before you left
Because you obviously did that, right? Letting the robots that rule our work lives be your “I’m on vacation!” billboard is great while you’re away, so no one sits around waiting for an email response or for you to show up to a meeting that you’re never going to show up to because you’re busy drinking a Piña Colada out of a coconut. Now that you’re back though, be sure to shut those messages down so you don’t get behind on anything pressing for your attention.
Plan your attack by your calendar
Upon your return, give your calendar a healthy look before planning out your next couple of weeks. Jot down the big kahunas coming your way, then schedule work around them in order of importance. Putting some extra effort in strategizing will save you lots of pain down the road when you didn’t forget about that presentation due at your meeting with the boss.
Hit the inbox sprinting
Nothing triggers work anxiety quite like an ever-growing ocean of emails, so build yourself a lifeboat before diving in. Consider sorting your emails by whatever metric is most urgent — sender, subject, date — and then attack in descending order of importance. That way, whatever you don’t get to on the first day back probably isn’t going to give you a headache later on.
Pad the edges
As you settle back into your usual routine, give yourself and your schedule some breathing room so you don’t burn out. That extra padding comes in handy when a co-worker has something from a meeting last week that they need your approval on, or when you’ve reached 4 pm and the only message your brain is sending is ERROR 404. Take it easy ramping back up to your usual speed so your steering wheel doesn’t go flying out the window while you’re driving.
Let yourself be a little bummed
It’s okay to be sad that that amazing trip you’ve been planning for a year is over! People have feelings, and sadness is one of them. Don’t shame yourself for feeling a little teen angst about being at work again, and let your feelings process as they need to. Don’t give into guilt, either: a hard-earned vacation doesn’t mean you have to put in extra hours for a whole week when you get back — then you didn’t really get any time off, did you?
Drink a lot of water (and probably caffeine)
Travel in general (but especially airplanes) can suck the hydration right out of your body. The effects of jet lag, a head cold, and even the remnants of whatever virus you picked up from that water you weren’t supposed to drink can be seriously mitigated by the water you are. So fill up a Hydroflask and race yourself to the end of the day.
Sleep it all off
Isn’t it kind of cool that one of the best ways to repair our bodies isn’t an expensive medical procedure, but rather something we already have to do naturally? Don’t make a ton of plans your first week or two back so that your evening hours can be spent unconscious in the comfort of the mattress you got to pick out yourself, and you’ll be rolling smoothly back into your old routine just in time to plan your next vacation.