When you have experienced the ecstasy of switching on your ‘Out of Office’ notice – thoughts of what will be waiting for you when you return after that long awaited holiday seem a long way off.

Hopefully, as you switched on the out of office, you also switched off your business email and social media accounts and committed to taking a proper break from all work related activities. You’ve made sure you are not joining the two in three people who report that they worked whilst on holiday!

With proper preparation you can set off on you holiday, recharge your batteries and avoid those back to work blues and worries of mounting emails, incomplete tasks or important meetings scheduled for when you return. Here’s some tips that might help.

1. Start with a positive mind-set

Holidays give us time to think about issues that we often put to the back of our minds when we are at work. Careers, relationships, workload and other deep seated issues come to the surface when are away from the day to day hustle and bustle. After the dream of taking early retirement, not going back or a finding a new job on some exotic island gives way to reality, some people will start to dread the thought of going back to work. This can lead to a spiral of negativity which can cancel out all the benefits of the amazing holiday you had and will inevitably be noticed by colleagues. Moods are contagious, so don’t take a bad one into work!

When you are thinking about your first day back at work, instead of focusing on the negative (your full inbox or a daunting customer meeting), think about those elements within your role that you enjoy. Focus your mind on the things you are looking forward to about returning to work.

Take time on holiday to read a book or listen to a podcast about the advantages of a positive mind-set. You might find you learn new life skills that make a big difference.

2. Accept that you will return to a full inbox

Before you return to work, accept that your email inbox will be bulging and there will be lots to catch up on. However, you can reduce the immediate pressure by setting your email expectations within your “Out of Office” message. Make it clear when you will be returning to the office and maybe think about adding an extra day to give you a buffer on day one of your return.
On day one, avoid scheduling lots of meetings and calls, instead, schedule time in your calendar to work through your inbox. Start by focusing on the emails which you know are a priority or have been sent by key colleagues and clients.

3. Help yourself to quickly re-adjust back to work

The steps above will improve your mood as you prepare to return to work after your break. However, there are also some more practical steps which you can take to help you get ready for the first day back. Before you leave for your holiday, make sure you have everything in place that you will need for work when you return. Clothes, uniform, work bag and even ingredients for lunches can be pre-prepared to avoid any last minute panics. A little advance organisation will help ease you into you work routine.

4. Personalise your workspace

According to the Association for Psychological Science, creating a tidy and more personal workspace can improve your mood. Try adding simple touches such as a treasured photograph (maybe a snap of your recent holiday) or plants which will give you an instant lift.

5. Think about how you can make useful changes

Holidays give you time to think and sometimes thoughts can turn to everything that you would like to change about your job. Rather than dwelling on everything you feel is wrong about the organisation, spend some time working out how you could improve things for yourself and your employer.

Fix a meeting with your line manager and make positive suggestions about your own area of work (not what you would do to change everything about the place!) and how it would help you to be even more productive. You might be surprised about the influence you gain on wider issues when you suggest changes you can personally make that affect your own role.

Do you have deeper issues? – make a plan

The steps above can be quick solutions to ensure your return to work is more bearable in the short-term. However, they are unlikely to solve bigger issues that might cause you to dread going back to work. During your holiday, try to establish exactly what it is which is making you feel so down about returning to work. By identifying the bigger problems, it will make it much easier to create a plan of action to solve them. What parts of your job are making you dread going back to work? Maybe you no longer feel challenged and don’t feel valued. Perhaps a lack of support from your boss has seen you turned down for a promotion. Maybe you can’t see a clear career path with your current employer. Perhaps you are struggling with an increasing workload that causes a high levels of stress.

If you haven’t previously made your manager aware of the problems, they can’t know that you need help. They won’t be able to put measures in place to help put things right. The first step is to have an open and honest conversation with your manager. When you meet, discuss the ways in which you can work together to address the issues you are struggling with. Resolve to deal with things when you get back from your holiday and you can spend the rest of your time away knowing you have a plan. Then you can get on with your your well-deserved break!

Is it time to look for a new job?

Have already tried talking to your boss about the issues you’re facing but feel as if nothing will change? Perhaps it might be time to follow your instincts and consider finding a new position.
Spend some time during your holiday thinking about the type of job you would like to find and your career goals. Think about the network of contacts you already have that could help you – this will give you something positive to focus on and a plan of action for kicking off your job search when you return.

It’s important to remember that most people will experience some degree of back-to-work blues as they think about returning to work after a great holiday. These feelings can creep in before they’ve even packed their suitcase. Resolve to take some practical steps, make a plan and enjoy your break!

If you’d like to know more about how the team at First Base can help you when you are considering your next career move, call 01453 755330 or email tricia.hay@first-base.co.uk