Weekend Journal — Recovery

Weekend Journal — Recovery

I’m on the tail end of a 10 day vacation, the longest I’ve ever taken. If you read my column from last week, you’ll know that it was my delayed honeymoon. I had a blast! I highly recommend Hawaii and as soon as I finish paying off the debts I’ve incurred over the past week, I’m sure I’ll heartily endorse everyone else doing so as well.

Anyway, debts aside, I’m interested in talking about something we all experience, whether it be a 10 day excursion on a tropical isle or a 2 day roadtrip to Wisconsin. What do you do when you need to get back to the office? How do you recover from time away from email, project schedules and keeping up with all of those critical updates about your co-workers’ children’s contra-alto clarinet lessons. Either way, how do you catch up?

  • Clear up that inbox, soldier!
    • I think the first and most important thing when returning from vacation is to open your inbox and delete everything you can. Not everything¬†mind you. Just as much as you can bear. If you’re a VIE (very important engineer), you might have a lot more hot items than a lowly engineer like me. If you’re a project manager, you might spend all day looking at your past emails (hey, isn’t that what you guys do most of the time anyway? ūüėČ )¬†In my case, I think it means scanning my inbox for hot items from before you left (perhaps a top-priority project) and deleting just about everything else. I’m sure if I start reading all of the wonderful feeds (like the Engineer Blogs email edition!) sent to my inbox, I’ll quickly get sidetracked.
  • Delete your phone messages
    • As one of my bosses has said, “If it’s really important, they’ll call you back”. At first, I was appalled at this concept. Why shouldn’t you call someone back immediately? But when it comes down to it and you’re dealing with this as they start on fire, this is just about the only way to operate. And since you’re just getting back from time away, the best way to know if something is really important? To see if they also emailed you and called you and continue to call you.
  • Clear off your desk
    • You’re bound to find something underneath the pile of papers that will cause an “Oh crap” moment. The invoice you forgot to get approved or the expense report you never turned in. Or maybe even just filling out a timecard that you had been putting off for weeks. And if you clear it off, throw away all the rubbish and still don’t find anything important? You pass, nothing will bite you. Now go double check your email, because something is likely waiting to bite you in there (hey, maybe you even just deleted it!)
  • Go out to lunch
    • You’re probably exhausted¬†from a morning full of hitting the delete key, right? Well, take a break! Get out of the office and get some grub. But much more importantly, get out of the office with your co-workers. You will be able to find out what really¬†happened while you were away and which subjects to possibly avoid when talking to your boss or co-workers.
  • Wait
    • If you work somewhere with moderate to crazy schedules, more than likely: Trouble will find you.
So what about you? How do you deal with that first day back? Do you have any tips to share with other readers? Let us know in the comments! I’ll be sure to respond in a few days…when my email inbox is finally back to normal!




Love it. So much of our email is of an “FYI” type anyways. I try to file away emails that don’t actually mean I have to DO something. If it’s a to-do task for me it stays in my inbox. If it’s a nice to know/keep you in the loop I file it away.

I’d advise cleaning off your desk before you go on vacation to avoid the “oh crap” moments, but I agree with everything else! Great topic.

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