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How to Get Ahead of Your Workload Before Your Vacation

Topics: Career Advice
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Vacation time is always something to look forward to. But for many of us, planning around being out of the office can be super stressful.

According to the American Psychological Association, 44 percent of working adults say they check work email every day while on vacation. I’m certain that’s because the prospect of returning to piles of work, a bursting inbox and multiple deadlines is almost as bad as not going away in the first place.

If you are counting down the days until your vacation begins, often the last thing you want to think about is your first day back at work. However, with some smart planning you can stay one step ahead. Prepping for your first day back at work, before you even depart, will help alleviate some of the stress of being away.

Here are some steps you can take before you even pack your suitcase:

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Frontload your deadlines

Establish what will be needed from you in your first week back, so you can get as much as possible taken care of before you leave. Frontloading your deadlines should give you a little bit of breathing room on your first day back.

Thinking ahead to your first week back will be sure to score you bonus points with your boss too. Most people are busy trying to hand off work that’s due while they are gone. You’ll look efficient and proactive if you take care of what’s needed while you’re gone and prepare what’s needed when you return.

Do a top-to-bottom clean up

Before you depart do a thorough clean up: Put your files in order, organize your desk, declutter your inbox, delete old voicemails, clear up your calendar. Taking care of admin will help make space for what will come in while you’re away.

Clearing out the clutter will also make it easier to work through what you need to tackle on your first day back.

Prep for your first day

Before you even depart, make sure you know what you will need for your first day back in the office. Review what’s coming up, and prepare anything that will get you a head start on your first day back.

Make sure you have your work attire ready to go, too; It will give you one less thing to worry about upon your return.

Schedule time to unpack and rest

If you’re traveling far, it’s common to plan to return just before you are due back at work, to maximize your time away. If you can, make sure to factor in time to get home, unpack, take care of what’s needed at home and even rest before you jump right back to work.

Getting plenty of sleep is essential after travelling, and especially important when you are getting ready to the office.

Plan something fun

Before you head out on vacation, put something to look forward to on your calendar for your first week back. Maybe it’s lunch with a friend to tell her about your trip, or some kind of activity that energizes you.

Coming back to work after a fun vacation is always hard, but having something you enjoy pre-scheduled will make tyour return a little easier.

Head in early

Plan to head into work a little earlier than you normally would on your first day back. This will give you a head start on catching up on what’s needed. In addition, arriving at work early will demonstrate to your team that you’re excited to be back and ready to jump in to your projects.

Octavia Goredema is the founder and editor of Twenty Ten Talent, a career resource for talented young black women. Find her on Twitter at @OctaviaGoredema.


How do you prepare to be out of the office? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Octavia Goredema
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