Vacation Is Over. Your Problems Are Just Beginning.

Bob Goldman on

Vacations are important, especially for someone who works as hard as you do -- or, should I say, someone who works as hard as you do trying to make it look like you do work hard.

This is true whether you frolicked at the beach or romped in the mountains or just stayed home, restoring your chi by the latest exercise craze -- power hammock swinging. A vacation from work is a wonderous thing, but there is a problem. Eventually, you do have come back to work.

Lydia Dishman is well aware of the problem. As the author of "If You're Struggling to Find Focus After Vacation, Read This," her recent article for Fast Company, Dishman frankly describes the dire condition in which she found herself upon returning from her vacation.

"Productivity is down," she reports, "and my cognitive function feels like the equivalent of a plate of undercooked scrambled eggs."

Since this is the condition in which you find yourself on most days that you aren't on vacation, it makes sense to study her recipe for cooking those eggs, plus a few added ingredients all my own.

No. 1: Not all vacations are created equal.

The better the vacation, the more difficult it is to come back to work, right? It only makes sense that if you want to make the return to work better, make the vacation worse.

It's not hard to do. First, chose a destination that requires air travel. It's difficult to imagine any flight on any airline that wouldn't start and end your vacation with experiences that would turn any travelogue into a horror movie. Also, book a hotel with a steep "resort fee." This is a daily charge, rarely revealed until you're walking out the door, that allows you unlimited daily use of luxury extras like elevators, towels and doors. Finally, use your time away to experience the local environment, especially indigenous inhabitants such as sea lice, sand fleas, red fire ants, brown recluse spiders, stonefish and sharks. Creatures like these may scare some people, but compared to your managers, they're pussy cats.

No. 2: Bring your vacation home with you.

If you're vacationing at the beach, bring home a pound of sand. Every day, put a pinch or two in your undies. It will give you that scratchy, infuriating sense of discomfort usually only possible after a meeting with HR. (If co-workers expect a gift, give them dengue fever. They'll thank you for the time off.)

No. 3: Hocus Focus.

No question: Focus can be difficult to achieve after a vacation, especially considering the avalanche of work that will be dumped on you the minute you return.

When you do decide to actually get to work, avoid the urge to "multitask."


"Even if multitaskers feel like they're getting more done," warn researchers at the University of London, "they're working at a much lower cognitive level and costing companies billions of dollars in lost productivity." (Don't worry about who pays those billions. Your company has your credit card on file.)

And how do you choose the first assignment on which to aim your laser focus? Easy-peasy. It's either the project requested either by the manager at the top of the org chart or the person in charge of choosing snacks for the office. It could take months before a C-level manager notices you blew off their assignment, but a lack of Abba-Zabba bars in the break room will be felt immediately.

If you did make the mistake of having a great vacation, it's natural that you will feel depressed and bored.

These are emotions you can make work for you.

"Boredom can help people replenish their resources," says Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics. "It doesn't provide much stimulation and underuses our resources."

Fortunately, your boss is not likely to see you in zombie mode, since boredom "usually peaks around 1 p.m. after lunch," exactly the time you are turning to your co-workers and asking, "Who's ready for dessert?"

While these strategies should be helpful, there's no doubt that returning to work from even the worst vacation is a difficult transition. Though your focus may be fuzzy and your boredom overbearing, take comfort in the fact that you have a full year before you have to go on vacation again.

By that time, you'll have matured sufficiently so that you can say, "No vacay for me this year; working at this company is vacation enough."

Considering how hard it is to come back, you may actually believe it.


Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Copyright 2024 Creators Syndicate, Inc.



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