It’s the two weeks that we look forward to all year. Your time to completely step back and switch off from the daily routine, but all too often the thought of the lead up to your holiday and what will be waiting for you when you arrive back, can dampen the brightest holiday spirit.

Before you go, you end up in a whirlwind trying to fit two weeks’ worth of work into the last few days and the thought of opening your inbox on that first day back in the office fills you with dread.

Here are some simple efficiency tips that could help ease you into the holiday spirit and let you truly maximise your R&R time.

Before your holiday

  • Set yourself a rule – either don’t check business emails at all, or alternatively, if you can’t tear yourself away, set a rule to only check once a day for half an hour. Either way, make sure people are aware of whether you’ll be accessible or not (and don’t feel bad – this is your time to recharge and refresh!).
  • A week or two before you go, put an hour aside to compile a complete task and schedule list of anything you need to clear before you go, include any jobs would need to be completed while you’re away. Put dates and timings on the list and use this as your guide in the run up to your leave.
  • If someone is covering for you while you’re away, ensure they have a detailed handover document with updates on anything outstanding, what might come in and provide any relevant contact information that could be needed. Don’t forget to let others know who to contact while you’re away.
  • Take a bit of time to unsubscribe from any junk emails you get or, if you get regular information-only emails that require no specific action, set up an Outlook rule for these emails to filter directly into a specific folder so they’re not clogging up your inbox on your return.
  • Plan ahead and block out time on your first day back so that no meetings get booked in on the day of your return. Knowing you’ve got a bit of breathing space will make you less worried about coming in to any last minute meetings etc.
  • Don’t forget to set up the all-important out of office reply. A great tip would be to advise people that if their message is very important and can’t be dealt with by anyone else but you, hold onto the message and send it when you know you’ll be back in the office and it won’t get lost in the midst of everything else.

On your return

  • If your boss/manager or the person who was covering for you is around on your return, before you start anything ask if there’s anything that requires your urgent attention before you start to pick back up on your work.
  • Make a conscious effort to hold onto the refreshed post-holiday feeling. Pace yourself during the first couple of days back, ensure you take your lunch breaks, get some fresh air, have a walk etc.
  • Keep your out of office on an extra half day or day while you slot back into the routine and get back up to speed on events while you were away.
  • Before going through your emails in-depth, glance through your inbox and delete the obvious junk emails.
  • Categorise your emails or group your them into ‘Conversation’ mode so that all the threads on the same topic are together. If you’re unable to do this, don’t respond to anything until you’ve gone through all your emails to ensure someone else hasn’t already dealt with the query.
  • Check your calendar and book your next holiday. There’s no better way to combat the post-holiday blues than to book something else in to give yourself something to look forward to!

For top tips on how to efficiently organise your Outlook inbox, check out our self-paced training course which can be studied at home or work at a time that suits you.