The beach was so relaxing, the mountains so calm, the back porch so lazy, but that was last week. But with vacation over; it's time to get back to work. What can you do to minimize the jarring sense of being tossed back into the frying pan?
Start thinking about work while still in vacation mode, says Mike Ryan, a vice president at Madison Performance Group in New York City, which works with employee engagement.
"Have a list of things you want to accomplish as soon as you get back," he said.
While your mind is still in that relaxed state — and while you're on the flight or drive back — remember the projects, the e-mails and tasks that were still outstanding when you left. Prioritize what you want to get done.
"When you start to go through the things you need to do, it sets off mental reminders of other things," he said.
Of course, Ryan, who works at increasing employee engagement, tends to be kind of engaged as an employee.
"I've found that by the end of vacation, I'm looking forward to going back," he said — a comment that may cause many to stop reading here.
But he has some good ideas.
One is to work out after your first day back to get rid of the nervous energy that accumulates on the job.
"I find that if you commit yourself to working out after you get back, you can maintain that balance. It really helps you stay relaxed and maintain that edge," he said.
He plans to follow his own suggestions this summer on the first real vacation he has taken in about a decade. It seems Ryan is so engaged that he leaves a lot of vacation days on the table every year.
He also said people tend to earn their vacation the week before by setting up systems or finishing work that would be done while they were gone. Many often check e-mail and make calls while they are gone.
He has collected other ideas while working with people who don't have leftover vacation time and would rather not answer work calls while they are away.
Bring back something for your co-workers to share. If you've gone to the beach, bring back saltwater taffy. Everyone enjoys it, and it will remind you of time away.
Wear comfortable shoes: The last thing you want is to smash your feet, which have been lounging in sandals, into uncomfortable pumps.
Finally, wear sunscreen. It will protect your skin while you are outside, and the smell will remind you of the sun.