Crawling Out of the Holiday Snakeskin at Work

Its been a bit over a week since our return to civilization and a bit under a week at work. The groggy hangover of vacation is lingering in my spirit. And of course I am far from being back to full tilt work mode.

The pain of returning to work as a Project Manager (PM), is finding out what occurred while you were away? And what did not get accomplished by your backup person? And reading all of those pesky 195-emails give or take a couple to determine what’s been going on?

My external voice is quieter than before holiday. My typing and reading skills are diminished as well as recalling where I left documents within electronic folders. I call this my post-vacation hangover. As I soon withdraw the cloud of vacation bliss and find that chaotic maniac who is the communications hub captain also known around our office and the rest of the world as the PM.

Once I have drug my face away from reading the 195 emails and flagging the actual 25% which require action, then its time to organize them into most important to least important. As well as what needs immediate action and what can wait a week?

Of course the fun in returning to work is the plethora of responses from colleagues which span from;

  • Please do not ever go on holiday again!
  • How was your holiday?
  • What did you do?
  • Aghhh man. Am I glad your back!
  • Did you like that place in Mexico?
  • What were the top 5 highlights?
  • Oh man. That one project totally went sideways while you were gone! Did so and so tell you what happened?

It’s all a timing issue. Everything is “URGENT” to everyone except you, because you are still in the middle of trying to understand within yourself “what the heck was I doing before I left?” and “how did I approach this problem or that topic before my departure?” You are literally crawling out of the holiday snake-skin trying to shake the holiday breeze, the happiness of freedom to do what you want, when you want, on your own schedule and not anyone else’s.

There is news, the good, the ugly and the insanely chaotic news when coming back. Thankfully, I used “lessons learned” from previous holiday departures and came up with a handy spreadsheet which identifies, who I want to assign a task to, who the sale person is, the lead engineer, the lead tech, the client, what the current project status is, what task I want accomplished while I am away, a due date for that task, additional background notes, notes to myself (to assist with recalling what was going on?) and a spot for the assigned person, to write notes back to myself.

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I came up with this Excel strategy after a couple of really terrible vacations coming back to work. Going away was literally the best and worst thing I could imagine doing. I had such high anxiety returning to work, simply because I did not put a plan in place for departing and returning. Well, I’ve got that covered now! And it’s especially important as I am dealing internally with Engineers, Technicians, Operations and Sales. Plus any Subcontractors, the client and a handful of other stakeholders.

Sitting here this morning sipping this Italian espresso, I can tell you, the fog is lifting, the holiday happiness lives within my spirit and its been a nice transition back into the workplace this time around. Although, I am definitely not quite ready to shed the holiday bliss, I am ready to remember where I had left off. Someday I imagine work being a bit like being on holiday… a simpler routine, a nice breeze and palm trees out an office window.