This episode covers some of my thoughts on a recent return from vacation and how to keep the vacation glow going for as long as possible. Nothing is more disappointing to me than watching it evaporate 30 minutes into the first day back.
As you are preparing to leave
- Leave a clear trail of what you need to work on when you return. I like using Trello cards for this.
- Set your email auto-responder to start a few hours before the end of the day before you will be gone and to end a few hours into the first day after you return
- As you leave town (assuming you don’t need to be reached or won’t have service) set your phone to airplane mode and turn it off
- Don’t check your email until the day you go back to work (not the night or day before)–all the problems will still be there. “Getting a jump on things the night before” is an illusion
- Create a gap day by blocking out your calendar the entire day of your return–automatically decline all calendar invites if your calendar does that (Google Calendar does)
When you return
On the first day back, ease into things and be intentional about what you’re going to work on instead of diving head first into deleting email (avoid the illusion that it’s going to make you feel satisfied)
- Pack your bag and pick your clothes the night before your first day of work
- Read a few pages from an interesting book to center your mind
- Journal about what you want your day to look like and how you want to feel at the end
- Put clear boundaries around what you will and won’t do on that day
- Look at that list of things you created before you left and prioritize the attention they deserve
Dealing with a pile of email
Turn off the email fire hose (and sense of defeat) by setting your email client to offline after you’ve downloaded all the new messages. The world won’t end.
- Sort your email in different ways to identify easy to delete messages:
- Sort by sender… delete, delete, delete
- Sort by subject/thread, delete, delete, delete
- Reverse sort by date so that the oldest email is first (sometimes these take care of themselves)