- Respond to your most important emails without necessarily answering them. If you skim your email and see urgent (or semi-urgent) messages from important contacts or clients, answer with a quick note that simply, cheerfully, and politely lets the sender know you’ve received the message and will provide a more thoughtful response soon. This can buy you more time that you may realize.
- Keep in mind that a delayed response can sometimes be a power move. If you don’t answer a message right away, the sender might think you’re being disrespectful or sloppy…but this isn’t likely. Most of the time, a slow reaction time simply suggests that you’re busy and in demand.
- Find human shortcuts through your overflowing inbox. If you have favors to call in, now may be a good time to cash in your chips. Enlist help from your peers, delegate to your underlings, and ask your boss to help you prioritize the pile by letting you know which tasks are the most important.
- Build a bank of karma long before your next vacation time arrives. Offer to help out coworkers, take the load off underlings, and shoulder a larger-than-usual burden for your boss when any of these people take a vacation, and they’ll remember this gesture when your situations are reversed. In other words, be supportive and celebratory when others leave the office. And by all means, don’t be resentful.
- Keep things clean and neat. A huge backlog is easier to deal with when it doesn’t actually look like a depressing chore. For example, if you have 50 individual paper forms to process, organize them into three neat folders. Then place the folders into a neat little holder. This move doesn’t actually change the task in front of you, but it might make facing the task a little easier on your psyche. Remember the rule of right angles: Stack things in an orderly way and they’ll look more manageable, even when they aren’t.
- Share your vacation. Talk about the fun you had and show pictures to those who are interested. This humanizes you and relaxes those around you. When you go to Hawaii, you can leave the office behind, but when you come back, bring a bit of Hawaii with you.
Summer is the season of the email auto-reply. These are months when we pack our things and head out the door for the beach, the mountains, the airport, or just a few days sipping fruity drinks beside the kiddie pool in the back yard. But sooner or later, we have to come back to our desks and face the mountain of responsibilities waiting there. And the easier this mountain is to tackle, the more fun we’ll have while we’re away and the more energized and rejuvenated we’ll feel when we return.Keep Your Career on Track: Post-Vacation Recovery TipsA few simple moves can help you pick up the reins quickly after a little change of pace and some fresh air: