You all saw the #12Days1Duffle hashtag on Instagram and Twitter. You were able to keep up with Desirée and me on The Reader. But now, I’m back and work is a real place that people have to go to when they return from vacation. But what does returning from the office look like? If you’re like me, you may have never taken two full weeks away from the desk and coming back may seem like a daunting task. Well, here was my process for day one of my return.
- Greet your immediate department. I made sure to come in and spend about 30 minutes on Monday morning speaking to those in my department. Of course, everyone wanted to see photographs so I sent some people the link to The Reader and told them to thumb through the story and photographs.
- Open your e-mail inbox. Yes. The dreaded inbox must be opened. Fearful as you may be, if you did a good job of letting people know you would be out of town ahead of time, you shouldn’t have too many e-mails that you’re required to respond to. Sure, I had a few that I was carbon copied on but, in my eyes, carbon copies are always informative in nature and don’t require a direct response unless you have something of value to add to the conversation. I came back to 186 unread e-mails. After sorting through the general Google Alerts (a great tool you should check out) and fundraising digests that I subscribe to, there wasn’t too much work that I had to do.
- Check my voicemail. Whereas e-mails don’t always require a response, voicemails do. Make sure that, when you check your messages, you’re taking notes, either on your computer or a notepad. Jot down names, numbers, and reasons for calls.
- Ease back into projects. Don’t kill yourself on day one (unless you’re like me and only have 9 business days left at the job. Then go hard for those 9). It is critical that you don’t jump in too quickly because your mind isn’t ready yet. I personally didn’t check a solitary e-mail for 16 days. So jumping right back in and thinking on that level was a challenge. I strongly recommend letting the first 4 hours be relaxed and grind hard during the second half of the day.
- Meet with your team. Being out of the office for 2 or 3 days is completely different from being gone for ten business days. A lot can change in two weeks. My entire department went through an unexpected restructuring while I was gone. So make sure that, once you’re back, a meeting is set for the first 48 hours of your return.
- Set up a To Do List. Prioritize what needs to get done over the rest of the week (to get you back on track). Some folks, like myself, try to do this before they leave. I worked my backside off before I left so that, when I returned, I would be able to focus solely on tying up loose ends. However, the inevitable happened and everything went awry. Good thing is, I just had to fix a couple of things to get them back in order. Either way, when you get back, set a list in order of importance and make sure that you come back ready to work hard and show people that your vacation didn’t negatively affect your work ethic.
These are just my three cents folks. Take it for what it’s worth. Good luck vacationing this summer. You have vacation time for a reason. Use it. But come back with a purpose. My purpose is to end strong in this role.
Make professional development a priority.