The last few times I've gone on vacation, I've done a decent job of disconnecting and recharing while I'm gone, only to get completely overwhelmed when I return. By the end of my first couple days, I'm exhausted and feeling like I need another vacation!

Any tips on how to avoid this?

I think what knocks me out of whack is a combination of people dropping by to follow up on emails they sent me while I was out (which I haven't yet had a chance to action or decision), people dropping by to fill me in on important happenings and the latest and greatest developments, and Monday afternoon status meetings where I don't have much to contribute beyond "still catching up" (hate that!). It all adds up to information overload and this quasi-introvert feeling drained.

I go back on Monday. Best options I can come up with for avoiding it this time around are:

1. Do a couple hours of email  and prioritizing my to-do list on Sunday or early Monday morning before others get in

2. Close my door Monday morning! (But I hate seeming unavailable.)

VPfreedude's picture

After years of this I have come up with my "system" to handle the overload. Here is the general list of things I do to try to ease my way back into the office:

When I leave I set expectations with my out of office greeting. I won't have email while gone etc and I generally say I will respond to emails by Tuesday/Wed of the week I arrive back to set people's expectations.

I let my team (exec team) know to help me out please put a comment in the subject line of emails such as "NEED TO READ" or "NEEDS A REPLY" to indicate the matter is critical. Lots of time gets wasted catching up on "FYI" style emails in my opinion. I also have my team of directs do this as well so I can prioritize the backlog of email. Most of the FYI stuff can be caught up on over a conversation quickly.

If I can actually turn off email through vacation, I start reading them for my return flight home (Kills time and helps on Monday morning) if not I put in a few hours reading the important updates after the kids go to bed.

I delegate my authority to a key direct. They attend most meetings for me, etc. Then first thing Monday morning I have them update me at 8:30 so I am up to speed on my direct's challenges/accomplishments prior to meeting with the executive team where I get up to speed on anything my directs are not included in. (my directs don't attend the executive team meetings in my absence)

I actually tell people who drop in to chat about either what happened while I was gone or to ask about my vacation that I am too busy catching up to chat now and suggest we chat the following day or later in the day. I also commit to (and put it on a list) seek these people out to follow up with them after I am up to speed on anything major.

None of these make my system perfect but it is better for me than my old one which was to read emails once a day on vacation and come back caught up by burnt out.

Best of luck finding the system that works for you. Hopefully my way gives you some things to think about.

delete_account_per_reacher_145083_dtiller's picture
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The key to my successful return from vacation is delegating to my key direct.  This person will fill in for me and then first meeeting upon return is an update by priority.  Urgent stuff first.  Then non-urgent the next day or two.

I don' worry about not having an update for a meeting that same day.  Everyone knows you were away and they don't expect a big update.  You can however, include, anything from the direct's urgent update to demontration you are on top of critical matters.

For those who drop by to chat, defer to lunch or coffee to do a catchup and often they are just being polite, say it was a great time.  Ask them to send an email if they need something handled or continue to defer to your direct.  Gives them continued growth opportunities and frees you to catchup.