I’m coming off of 2 incredible weeks of vacation.  Brie and I went to an 8-day personal growth seminar followed by a week of time with our kids on a beautiful beach.  Both parts of the trip were energizing and inspiring.

Coming back from vacation can sometimes be painful, so I’ve tried to develop a process when I return that quickly puts me into my peak flow.  I thought I’d outline what helps me get back up to speed smoothly in case any of this is helpful to you as you return from your summer vacations.

  1. I stay fairly detached during vacation.  If it’s a longer trip like this one, I try not to be on my phone/email for the first several days to set the tone mentally of being away.  Then when I start checking in, I restrict my time on email and I only glance at and respond to emails from people who are super high priority.  I ignore all others until I return.
  2. I like to return from vacation on a Saturday so I have another full day with with the family to get situated back at home.
  3. A day or two before I get back into the office, I’ll go back through emails (not all of them) and make sure I hit all the super high priority ones.  I continue to ignore all others.  Just the process of figuring out who to respond to or not is a valuable exercise in my opinion.  Who are your very limited number of “super high priority” people?
  4. Next, I think about the ultimate outcomes I desire / personas I strive for and brainstorm all of the things that need to occur to achieve those.  I then slot those in as priorities on my Trello board (how I manage my project list / desired outcomes).  By doing this exercise, it keeps me focused on what’s most important rather than starting my re-emergence in a reactive state just responding to the backlog of emails/voicemails.
  5. Then when I get to my office on Monday, I’ll have already set my priority list of what’s most important — I’ll already be in a proactive state.  I try to tackle a couple of those top priorities immediately on Monday morning.
  6. I schedule time to review/respond to email on Monday and that time block isn’t first thing.  I’ve found it important upon returning not just let email occupy every free minute.  I plan and schedule what the important outcomes are I need to achieve and then I schedule email-catch-up-time as a second-tier priority.

That’s my method.  It takes the sting out of returning and creates a focused, disciplined path to catching up while keeping important what’s important.

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