Just as you need a few days to get used to a different pace and schedule while on vacation, you need a few days to adjust to being back in your writing office. If you expect a period of adjustment upon returning from your writer vacation you will find resuming your work schedule will go much smoother. Here are some ways you can transition back to your work life.
Preparing for your return before you leave on your writer vacation:
The biggest secret for reducing the stress of ending your vacation and for boosting your productivity the first week back is to schedule your time so your writer vacation ends the day after you get home. Many people create this buffer day for themselves. You will not be ready to jump into your regular schedule the day you get back. This buffer day allows you to recoup, both physically, and mentally, before resuming your writing schedule.
If you get back home during the afternoon, then leave the following day for you to get caught up in non-writing areas so that when you do sit down to go back to your writing work the rest of your life will be in order. (NOTE: you may have been writing while you were on your writing vacation and if you write every day, you will probably write when you get home, but hold off on the office side of your writing business until such as the administrative and production tasks of writing until after you have your household tasks in order.)
What to do the day before you leave for home from your writer vacation:
- Write down a to-do task for the day after you get home
- Write down three goals for the first week after you return home
- Write down three goals for the first month after you return home
- Write down the tasks you need to do to achieve your three goals for the first week and first month
On the last day of your writer vacation create a to-do list to tackle when you return home that will help you achieve your first day at work goal. Having a plan when you return home allows you to start working during the transition from your vacation schedule to a working routine.
This strategy will help shorten the time to get back into your writing schedule. Rather than sitting and getting frustrated by feeling you are behind because you took a week break from work, you can complete your first task and feel good about achieving an immediate accomplishment.
What to do the day you arrive home from your writer vacation
Give yourself time to catch up on your personal and business email if you haven't done so while you were gone. To get the most out of your upcoming writing week you need to do prepare yourself, your family and your household by doing mundane things like grocery shopping, picking up and reviewing your snail mail, picking up the dog, mailing bills, etc.
Give your body a break
Did you overeat while on vacation? Did you sit around and read all day without exercising? If so, you aren't alone but don't try and get back in shape the day you get home. Your body goes through a lot when you travel. Whether you drove or took an airplane trip, be kind to your body when you return home. Twice a year I embark on a yearly vacation that is a two hour a drive from my house, and I'm always tired when I get back.
The day you return home is not the day to start a new exercise regime or a radical new diet. Hydrate. Travel tends to dehydrate you. Exercise, but start with a reduced workout on your buffer day and then build up your time and intensity to get back into your routine.
What to do on your buffer day
Set reasonable priorities on your buffer day. Remember, the buffer day is not the day you return from your writer vacation, but the next day, so you have an entire workday to prepare for resuming your working schedule.
Let your body recover from traveling
Expect it will take a few days to get back in the swing of things, whether you write full-time or if you write part-time and have a full-time day job. Here is a checklist that will help you make the most of your buffer day:
Set up your desk
I always have the best of intentions to clean off my desk before I leave for vacation, but I usually end up with a stack of books that I wanted to read but wouldn't fit in my luggage, device cords and charges that I decide I don't HAVE to take with me, etc. As a result, when I get home, I often need to clean up my desk.
I use cleaning my desk to ease back into my first work day. When I'm in the middle of writing a book or a short story, my desk gets filled with reference books, my daytimer (yes, I use paper and electronic tools,) and snail mail. Organizing your desk will help get your mind, as well as your workspace, organized.
Review your calendar
Review all deadlines that are on your calendar for your first week back. Most writers schedule small task deadlines for this period and avoid committing to novel or short story deadlines.
Review your emails including any lower priority emails that you deferred while away
Read through your emails looking for any new contests or submissions announcements. Update your calendar.
Review your weekly, monthly and quarterly goals to remind you what you wanted to accomplish and to increase your excitement about getting back to work.
Review your three to-dos for the week and each day that you wrote down the night before leaving for home. Update them if anything unexpected has changed.
Your first day back after your buffer day
On your first day of work at your writing desk, don't feel like you need to stretch your day.
The secret to keeping your sanity upon returning from vacation is a combination of smart preparation and strategic triage. No matter how urgent the tasks and the pressure, do try to leave the office on time. After all, going on vacation does not automatically mean that you must put in extra hours as punishment! Be sure you build in time to relax and do the things you enjoy, that way the benefits of vacation stay with you longer.