I’m not a pilot, but I am a frequent flyer and every time I land, I’m not certain how the jet is going to be set down. Some seem to drop quickly and hit the ground with bumps and knocks, finally coming to a quick stop that requires a little holding on. Others come in almost floating and the wheels hit the ground softly, more like a butterfly landing gently on a flower than the massive machine it is going from 500 miles per hour to zero in a few seconds.
I’m sure there are many factors to how the landings go, but I do know I feel a sense of awe when it’s the calm and floaty kind.
Returning to work after time off requires a landing as well. And just like the planes, all too often they feel bumpy, fast, and sudden. If the point of time off is to get rested and refreshed, consideration about the return seems just as important as the leaving.
We spend a significant amount of time (especially most women) planning for the exit. Pre-planning work, finishing up projects, leaving instructions for those who will fill in while we’re out, pet care, kid care, house sitters, food for those we may be leaving behind, so there’s an incredible amount of work to do just to get out the door and on that plane.
We do it all so that we can truly rest, play, and detach without anxiety or stress about what’s going on at home.
However, what if we gave the same thought and planning to our return?
Here are my favorite ways to ensure a soft landing after the precious vacation time!
1. Add a buffer day (or 2). For many years, my husband and I believed in stretching out the vacation time as long as possible; often returning late on the night before we head to work the next morning, leaving little time for resting, catching our breath and resetting our minds for the new week.
But over more recent years, we love to add what I call a buffer day – it’s a least a day (more if there’s jetlag) between returning home and returning to work. I don’t do much activity, but it does give me time to reset, unpack, get food, and mostly, prepare my mind for a good return.
2. Practice gratitude. “Coming down” from vacation can be pretty rough for some. Rather than focusing on being sad that vacation is over and dreading returning to work, a little gratitude goes a long way. Grateful for the time and money to take a trip. Savor the memories you made. Remember what you love about your home and where you live. Look forward to seeing the people you work with that you may have missed. Seeing your pets or others who were left behind. Treasure the feeling of your own home – and bed.
3. Clear your schedule Day 1. Whenever possible, keep your first day back free from meetings and scheduled calls. It’s tempting to offer these times up when you know you’re going to be gone – but a day free of obligations allows for great catch up, and a softer landing with adjusting to the workday after the free schedule on vacation.
4. Go to bed early. I love my bed – even when staying at beautiful hotels or sleeping with ocean breezes, there’s nothing like my own bed to come home to. So, I look forward to getting between the sheets and even if I’m not tired, spend time reading until I drift off. Even an extra hour of sleep makes getting up on time the next day so much easier.
5. Schedule a little pampering. Today is my first day back, to the heat of Arizona summer, after a beautiful week at the beach with my family. I had the forethought to schedule an after-work massage and facial and now think it’s the best idea ever. Knowing that’s waiting for me at the end of my day is a great little treat.
Slowing down the return is like landing the plane softly. I’m so sad when I hear folks talk about hating getting back to work or having a rough transition from vacation. Give the soft landing a try and let me know in the comments how it works for you!