Why I’m Excited to be Back at Work

Three years ago, I hated dragging myself into my day job after a vacation. I’d had a taste of what I loved – time to write, sleep in, eat leisurely meals, enjoy time with family – and suddenly I was straight back into the working world.

Ever accidentally hopped in the shower when it was running cold? For lots of folks, heading back to work after a vacation feels like that – a nasty, sharp shock to the system.

I got back from honeymoon last weekend. We had a wonderful wedding day, surrounded by friends and family, followed by two fantastic weeks in Northumberland – part of England which we love for its dramatic coastline, lovely countryside, many castles, and abundant second-hand bookshops.

So why did I spend the train journey home looking forward to getting back to work?

It’s Not Just Because I Love My Work

Just like Thursday admits in Too Lazy to Fail, I don’t enjoy every single second of every single day: there’s always a bit of admin to do, or something tough that needs to be sorted out. But on the whole, I really love what I do, and the way I do it.

I work from home, and I have my study set up just how I like it. I can listen to Metallica all day. (My husband even suffers stoically through my singing.) I can take a break in the middle of the day to pop round and see my Granny, or get groceries, or check on a neighbour.

And I spend most of the day doing stuff I enjoy: writing blog posts, writing fiction, working on projects like the Creativity Toolbox, talking to other writers, hanging out with friends on Twitter…

But that’s not the whole story. I could love my work and still come back from a vacation with a sinking feeling. Like “I’m drowning in emails!” Or “This is all pretty ho-hum.

Tackling Emails: My Game Plan

I know that a packed-to-the-brim inbox stresses me out. I know that I get a bit queasy just thinking that people might be waiting anxiously for a reply from me. And my honeymoon was the longest break I’ve ever taken from my business. So I did a few things to keep my email nerves under control:

I managed expectations. A week or two before going away, I emailed a few key clients to explain that I’d be out of contact for a bit. This mean that, if there was anything super-urgent that they wanted, they could get it in before I went away.

I made my out-of-office reply unambiguous. I said that I would not be replying to emails till I got back. In the past, I’ve found that I’ll set up an out-of-office message and end up checking emails anyway. This time, I was determined to stick to it. J

I had a plan of action for when I got back. Instead of my usual routine – open Gmail, freak out, and frantically start clicking – I used Charlie Gilkey’s Email Triage. This helped hugely: I went from over 400 unread messages to around 90, in about half an hour. And I felt calm about it.

Of course, emails are just a small part of my day and my business, and a clear inbox doesn’t really do much for me. So as well as this, my back-to-work plan had another important element:

Having Something Awesome to Work On

I get bored easily. While I really enjoy my blogging work, I’m always looking for new challenges: it’s scary, yeah, but it’s also a great feeling when I succeed in something new.

I’m working on a couple of new and awesome things right now:

Awesome Thing #1: The final version of the Creativity Toolbox. I enjoyed working on the beta release, but I’m even more excited about adding in some new things, getting everything finished off, smartened up, and sent out to all our early-bird buyers.

I love working on bigger projects – and it’s been particularly great to work with Thursday. Although I’m definitely on the introvert side of the scale, I get a real sense of energy from bouncing ideas off someone else – and combining our skills on the Creativity Toolbox has meant that we’ve produced something that neither of us could have done alone.

Awesome Thing #2: A new service that I’m launching soon on Aliventures. I won’t say too much about this yet, but I’ve been doing a lot of pro bono work this week to get additional experience and testimonials for a whole new branch to my business. I’ve absolutely loved this (even though I was pretty nervous about it on Monday!) and it’s going brilliantly. It’s been great to have something totally new to throw myself into.

Of course, I’ve had the occasional moment when I’ve missed the long walks, magnificent views and delicious cake that we enjoyed in Northumberland. But it feels like just the right time to be back to work.

Do you get the post-vacation blues? What’s worked for you when preparing for your return to work after a break?

NB: We’re proud affiliates for Charlie’s Email Triage, and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a helping hand and calming voice to get them through their inbox.

(Image from Flickr user juhansonin)

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