How to Quickly Catch Up on Work After a Vacation


You work hard and deserve a vacation, but the thought of returning to an avalanche of work is keeping you at your desk. Jennifer Bridges, PMP, shows you how to dig yourself out quickly.

Here’s a screenshot of the whiteboard for your reference.

how to get back to speed at work after being out on vacation

In Review – How to Quickly Catch Up on Work After a Vacation

You’re dreaming of going on vacation, but the thought of coming back to a pile of work is a nightmare. No one wants to come back to a massive task list, so what do you do?

Jennifer said she feels your pain. It’s no fun after a good rest to find yourself buried under days of unanswered emails and overwhelmed by tasks that have gone undone in your absence. That’s not to mention new assignments and issues that have arisen since you’ve been out.

Related: Email Management Tools: Be Better at Email

But a vacation is not merely your well-deserved reward for all the hard work you’ve put into the job, it’s necessary recharging of your batteries. All work and no play make for burnout. So, take your vacation! Then, when you’re back at work, follow Jennifer’s advice.

How to Quickly Catch Up

  1. Block Off Day One for Admin & Catch Up: The first thing to do is know that you need to catch up on your admin tasks. Set time aside to devote solely to that activity; don’t even try to move forward until you’re back where you belong—in the present. Consider using time blocking to make your calendar.
  2. Send Out Communication to Inform People You Are Back: Just as you let those who need to know that you’d be gone for a certain amount of time, now you need to inform them that you’re back in the office. Also, set expectations about when you’ll be available or when people will hear back from you.
  3. Postpone Meetings and Calls Until After You’ve Caught Up: There’s no point in adding to your workload until you’ve cleared your desk. Therefore, meetings and phone calls that can wait should wait.
  4. Use Boundaries and Say, “No”: Just because you’ve set time aside and have decided to focus on getting caught up before moving forward, doesn’t mean that others won’t pull you into situations you’re not ready for. That’s why setting up clear boundaries is so important; don’t be afraid to say no with an explanation. Learn how to be more productive by saying, “No.”
  5. Prioritize: Just as you do when working, you need to prioritize the work you have to catch up on. Some of it is likely urgent, others less so. Make a list of the most serious and required tasks and do them first.
  6. Postpone or Delay Tasks That Aren’t a Priority: At the bottom of your priority list are the less important tasks. They’re there because if you don’t get to them right away it’s not the end of the world.
  7. Delegate: You don’t have to do it all on your own. There are tasks that can be shared or even passed on to free, or more capable, hands. If the work is something that you’re not needed for, then pass it on to those who can do it and keep your focus on the priorities.

Pro-Tip: It’s helpful to have project management software to help manage your vacation time. Whether it’s for you or your team, this way you can make sure that everyone knows when you have time off. As an extra benefit, you can also use the tool to manage your return to work and catch up on old work.

Take it Further: A hiatus can actually help your business. Read our blog to learn more.

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Today, we’re talking about how to quickly “catch up” on work after vacation. Well, we’ve all been there where we’ve finally gotten to vacation where we’ve been able to relax and recharge, and then, guess what? We have to come back to work where we’re typically buried with emails, overwhelmed with tasks, assigned new work, and tasked with more issues.

It’s probably the number one reason why most people don’t wanna go on vacation because they have to come back to this. But we have some ideas of pragmatic ways that you can quickly catch up, and get back on your feet, and back on track. So let’s take a look at a few.

Number one. Block off your first day back for administration and catch up. Just go through your emails, go through your inbox, go through all kinds of things in your office, and just allow yourself time to plan and organize.

Number two. Send out a communication to inform people that you’re back, but more importantly when you do that, set expectations when you’ll be available, and they can expect to hear back from you. In that way, they’re not automatically at your desk or sending you information or calling you. It lets them know that you’ve blocked time off, and to plan and organize.

Number three. Postpone meetings and calls until after you catch up because the result of these meetings and calls are more work, more action items, more issues that you have to address.

Also, number four. Use boundaries and say no. Sometimes people don’t feel like they can say no but good strong boundaries allowing yourself to block off things so it gives you time to get other important work done is very responsible and accountable.

Number five. Prioritize urgent, serious or even require tasks. Go ahead and plan to get those done.

And then number six. Postpone, delay any task or issues that are not urgent, serious or required. That way, it gives you more time to get those things done.

Number seven. Delegate or even ask for help from others for those tasks that don’t need you.

That way, again, you’re able to plan when you get back, get everything structured, organized and back on your feet. But if you need a tool that can help you quickly get back on your feet after vacation, then sign up for our software now at ProjectManager.

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