Preventing A Vacation From Increasing Your Workload

I recently took a 5 day vacation to Cedar Key and got back to my office to find my email box nearly empty – I was shocked! In the past, every vacation has come at a price – a loaded inbox, a desk covered in memos and notes, and a headache by lunchtime on my first day back. What happened this time that was different?

Well, I planned and pre-empted anything that might need my attention – that’s the first thing. I also communicated with my co-workers about my limited in-office time during the week, and so worked in concert with them to accomplish any group tasks. It’s not that I haven’t done that before, but this time I focused on the big picture rather than the big stack of papers piling up. I made lists, I crossed off the completed tasks, and I used retrospection at the end of the day to review my progress. I still had work to complete when I left for vacation, but it was the work that didn’t have pressing deadlines and wasn’t vital to business while I was away.


Time management isn’t easy for everyone, and for many it’s a constant struggle to balance sanity with accomplishment. When in doubt, I recommend a few moments of silence to reconfirm your priorities and maybe even rearrange them. At our office, we have several places where we can walk away from our desks and sit and think or work. We also have office dogs that lift our spirits and distract us just enough to keep our focus but inspire us frequently too. Things like water cooler discussions and time with the office dogs might seem like they add to an already busy schedule, but in fact they contribute to efficiency. On my last day before vacation, I spent several minutes petting Maxine our office mascot and unofficial boss, and watching her relax kept me motivated throughout the day and only occasionally looking out the window at the clouds as they pass by the window in front of my desk.

Motivation for accomplishment must not be forced or coerced; it must be coaxed and cajoled – and especially, inspired! Think about your motivation in your business – are you inspiring action, or forcing work. Both methods might allow for work to get done, but only one method is going to sustain itself over a long period of time. Consider your options as you try to move towards your goals, and then prioritize. Just remember, stopping to ‘smell the roses’ isn’t just a way to escape work, its valuable inspiration for any efficient worker!