Throughout the past 9+ years with my current employer, I have rarely taken a real vacation – one in the sense of getting away from it all for any extended period. I almost always end up giving in to the temptation to check email and voice mail and have frequently spent up to half of my planned days off working. I know I shouldn’t, but that’s been my pattern more often than not. I can’t stand coming back to huge backlogs of work or to unpleasant surprises.
I am glad to report that I did not succumb to that temptation in my time off last week. While I had to have some basic communication with my teammates on a couple of matters, I did not get sucked into reading other emails or any the 6,000 messages posted on the internal social network I manage. Over the nine days off, I worked a total of about eight hours, but a chunk of that was catching up on some online reading I’ve had on the back burner for a long time.
Going in to work today, I was anxious to see what had accumulated. The verdict? 257 emails plus 28 notifications on our social network. Fortunately, I had no meetings today, so I was able to knock stuff out. My goal was to work through and dispose of 100 emails, and I was able to finish off 200 of them plus the 28 social notifications – a wildly successful first day back. With tomorrow filled mostly with meetings, the pace of clearing the backlog will slow considerably, but today’s success puts me in a good frame of mind for the remainder of the week.
Coming back after being away from work can be good and bad. The good is that you’re back into the usual routine and, in my case, that’s doing something I love to do alongside some great people. The bad is that the backlog can seem overwhelming. With the backlog now manageable, the bad isn’t bad at all.
Of course, I’m not so sure what I think about the realization that things seemed to go just fine without me. Hmmmm….
Regardless, leap year lesson #260 is Work will go on without you.