November 25, 2015

Why is Showing Gratitude at Work So Tricky?


As you sit around on Thanksgiving saying what you're thankful for, will you save some of those thank yous for people at work?

Let’s face it, showing gratitude is rare in most workplaces. Even while there have been numerous studies on the positive relationship between gratitude and work engagement, the concept isn’t often embraced by the people in charge. When is the last time your boss said thank you?

Some bosses fear saying thank you to staff will weaken their authority, while others worry employees will take advantage of them if they show gratitude. There are also some managers who believe they already thank their staff by giving them a paying job, and some who will argue that because they don’t receive appreciation, there is no need to dole it out.

It is no surprise that people are less likely to feel or express gratitude at work than anyplace else, according to a 2012 survey of 2,000 Americans by the John Templeton Foundation. “It’s the habit that people bring to the workplace,” says Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. “They feel reluctant at work to say thank you but those bosses who do actually tend to be more respected.”

Clearly, creating a culture of gratitude can be tricky. For one corporate leader, finding the right approach was a learning process. When Criag Ceccanti, CEO of Pinot’s Palette (based in Houston; it has seven studios in Florida) gave his employees high-fives and thanked them often for their work building his paint and sip concept into a national franchise, the show of gratitude backfired: “They began not working as hard and not striving for the next level.”
Now he thanks employees during staff meetings, when they do something that deserves recognition. 


Dr. Jason Pirozzolo approaches gratitude at the office the way his mother taught him as a kid — through handwritten thank you notes to his employees for going above and beyond their routine job descriptions. 

It's not just bosses that can show gratitude. Thirty-year-old Jimmy Sinis says he thanks his co-workers when they put in extra effort on team projects. They do the same for him: “Because we have situations where it gets stressful, when we get to finish line together it’s gratifying. Saying thank you is part of the routine.” Sinis says if a co-worker pitches in to alleviate a few late nights, he reciprocates beyond verbal of gratitude: “I’ll say, let me take you to lunch, you really got me out of a jam.”
If someone deserves gratitude, Bob Preziosi, a professor of management at the H. Wayne Huizenga College of Business at Nova Southeastern University, believes saying thank you is best done publicly so that it is observed and can permeate the culture. However, Preziosi sees nothing wrong with employees giving the boss a push. “An employee may need to do a reversal and shoot a gratitude bomb at their boss,” he says. “Hopefully, their boss will pick up on it and respond.”
What are your thoughts on gratitude in the workplace? Do you want to be thanked for a job well done? Do you think a boss that shows too much gratitude is going to be stepped all over? 

November 12, 2015

Would You Take Your Parents to Work?


(Fiorella, a design coordinator at Stantec, and her parents, Angel and Marlene)



For the last few years, parents have taken then daughters and sons with them to work to give them a glimpse at what their work day is like. Indeed, Take Your Child to Work Day has become well celebrated nationwide.

Three years ago, LinkedIn started Bring Your Parents Day after finding about a third of parents don't understand what their children do for work. That's kind of a big deal when about a third of all millennials still live with their parents

I admit that at first I thought the whole thing was a little ridiculous...I wondered if this was just another extension of over-involved parenting. But I have learned a little more about what the day is about and have changed my mind. 

Last Thursday, Stantec in Miami, an engineering, architecture and interior design firm, invited its employees to bring their parents with them to work for the day. 

Architect and Senior Principal Jon Cardello of Stantec in Miami gave them a tour and answered questions. “Stantec recognizes that parent support plays an important role in employee job satisfaction. When parents visit their children’s place of employment, they will better understand their child’s profession and encourage their workplace goals,” Cardello said.

Fiorella Mavares, 28, lives at home and often works long days and late nights as a design coordinator at Stantec. She brought her parents with her to the office to give them a feel for what she does and why she's challenged with work life balance.

"They saw everyone working and meetings going first they were a little overwhelmed, but they liked it," Fiorella says. "It helped them understand why I stay late so much and the level of difficulty of stuff we do."

Fiorella says she took her parents with her to an internal meeting for a project her firm is working on in Wynwood. "They sat there and they realized, it's not only artsy stuff we're doing, there are legal issues and zoning codes and technical stuff we're involved with as well.

Both of Fiorella's parents work. Dad works as a realtor and mom as a mortgage broker. Still, Fiorella says spending time at her office made them more supportive and proud of what she does for a living. 

Last year more than 50 businesses opened their doors to more than 20,000 parents. I wonder whether it made any difference -- or further reinforced why some of us are miserable in our jobs.

Whether you bring your child, your parent or even your spouse with you to work for the day, seeing you in your work environment, meeting the people you work with and experiencing the challenges you encounter can help to build an understanding. The truth is we all need to feel supported by the people when live with. 

What do you think your family member would learn about your work day by coming to your workplace? Is it anything they don't already know?

November 02, 2015

A Work Life Balance Must: Always Have a Plan B


Last week I was lounging comfortably on a couch in Starbucks, drinking coffee with Dr. Heidi Chumley Executive Dean of the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine. During our conversation, Dean Chumley said something so brilliant I had to share it.

I asked Dean Chumley about the what she feels she has done right on her ascension to upper administration and her plunge into motherhood. Not only is Chumley dean of a medical school and an Executive MBA student, she also has five children. Her husband holds an equally weighty job as vice president of education for Broward Health.

Chumley didn't skip a beat with her answer:  "I always have a Plan B."

Oh, how I have learned that to be true!  If there's one safety net that can keep a working parent from a deep plunge into work life disaster, it's having a Plan B.  "Time time to figure out your Plan B is not when you're having a crisis," Chumley told me. She's so right!

I recently read an interview with Ilene Gordon, CEO of Ingredion who talked about having a Plan B in business. Her comments apply to home life as well. Gordon said:  "We need to always be prepared for the possibility that things may not go according to plan. You should always have something to fall back on when things go wrong, or you'll have a hard time making it to the top. "

Gordon took it a step further: "Don't just have a Plan B, have other people readily available to help you execute it when the time comes."  

I have learned that a Plan B looks different at various stages of parenthood, work and life. But I completely agree with both women that having a Plan B is absolutely critical for work life balance. Here is what it involves:

Assembling your village: Before I had children, my desk was situated near a new mother who recently had given birth to her third child. At least once a week, the woman was called by the daycare to pick up her sick baby. She had no one else to pitch in and never asked her spouse to take a turn. After two months, the women, a really talented reporter, quit. The experience was enough to make me aware that I needed to create my village before giving birth. I lined up family members, and backup babysitters to ensure that I was prepared for childcare emergencies. Throughout years of balancing work and family, I added to my village by courting neighbors and other parents to pitch in with childcare when work emergencies cropped up.

Exercising flexibility: This crucial component of having a Plan B comes after proving yourself a hard worker. Even jobs like elementary school teacher can provide the flexibility to come in late or leave early if you have a good reputation and an understanding boss. More jobs than ever can be done at different hours, or from home. You need to figure out how you can use flexibility before a work life conflict arises.

Trading favors: My best advice to working parents is stockpile favors. When your boss calls a last minute meeting and your child is waiting to be picked up from dance class, you may need to ask another parent whose daughter is in the same class to help out. Being a parent who does favors for others goes a long way when you need one back. 

Including your children: As soon as your children are old enough to walk and talk, they are ready to be part of your Plan B. An older child can help out with a younger child, especially when the older child starts to drive. A middle schooler can call friends and ask for a ride to soccer practice when a parent runs late. The key is to include your children in helping you prepare by empowering them to find solutions in advance.

Being okay with delegating: To be successful at juggling, you need to identify people at work who have your back when you need it. Simply put: You can’t be the micro manager. You have to be able to get things done through others, particularly when you can't be there to do them yourself. Decide ahead of time who those people are and establish a give and take relationship.

Do you have your Plan B in place? If not, now's a great time to figure it out. 

October 27, 2015

REI's Work Life Balance Move Gets a Big Thumbs Up

I already loved shopping at REI and now I love the outdoor/sporting goods company's CEO. REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke announced he will close its stores on Black Friday and give all of the company's 12,000 employees a paid day off to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. 

Wow! What an amazing idea! It's not only an endorsement for the products his company sells, it also says something about his commitment to work life balance.

While its online sales will remain open, no sales will be processed until the next day. There will be a message on the corporate website encouraging people to spend time outside.  With the hashtag #OptOutside, REI will ask people to share what they're doing on Black Friday on social media. REI is hoping to convince consumers to start a new Black Friday tradition, one that encourages relaxation and fitness over stress and consumerism.

"Any retailer that hears this will be startled by the idea," says REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke, who admits he was apprehensive about closing at first. "As a co-op ... we define success a little differently. It's much broader than just money. How effectively do we get people outside?"

Jerry Stritzke is taking a big gamble by closing on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. But it's a gamble I think will pay off. Imagine the good will he is creating with employees and customers who understand the message he is sending. 

"Somebody has to be the one to kind of put their flag in the sand and say enough is enough,"  Brian Harrower, store manager at the REI in Bloomington, Minn.,told USA Today. "That's what #OptOutside is for us, is saying we're going to be the first, we think this doesn't make sense anymore, it's not healthy. And an outdoor life is a healthy life."

Of course, the idea of closing on Black Friday was enthusiastically embraced by REI employees.

Here is Stritzke on CBS News on why the company is closing its stores on Black Friday:


"There's more to be gained from brand identity and showing our values than the money we will make on that one day!" he said.

What do think of REI's announcement? Do you think other retailers should do the same thing?

October 22, 2015

What to do when you hate your job

KatlynKatlyn Grasso loves her job as CEO of GenHERation. She talks excitedly about empowering high school girls and has the passion for what she does that all of us want to experience.

When I spoke with Katlyn for a recent Miami Herald column on pursuing your passion, she said something that stuck with me.

Grasso, 22, says she often encounters peers who hold jobs in which they are not fulfilled and offers this advice: “If you are not in a financial position where you can pursue your passion right away, find ways to incorporate it into your schedule — whether volunteering, working on a business idea on weekends, becoming an intern. You have to keep working at it.”

The reality is that fewer than half of American workers are satisfied with their jobs, according to a 2014 survey from the Conference Board, a not-for-profit economic research institute. But just because you're in a job you're not passionate about, doesn't mean you can't eventually segue into doing something you love. 
Let's say you're a window washer and you aren't exactly finding your job fulfilling. Instead of walking around complaining that you hate your job, think differently about the big picture. In a TEDx talk in Kansas City, branding expert Terri Trespicio said try doing something -- anything -- in your off hours and be open to where it takes you. 

"Sometimes you don’t know what going to do next and that’s okay not to know. If are waiting to find your passion to take you there, you will be waiting a long time. Instead, spend your time and attention solving your favorite problems. Be useful and people will pay you for it. Success is when your energy and effort meets someone’s needs," she said. 

At a time when people are desperate to figure out what they are passionate about and turn it into their life's work, Terri insists:  "You don’t follow your passion, your passion follows you."

She's not the only one that believes that to be true. This morning I watched an interview with legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola (known best for his film The Godfather). Coppola opened his third winery this month. Okay, I realize few of us have the financial means to launch a wine company but Francis said something that makes a lot of sense: "The things you do out of trying to enjoy life are the things that make business sense."
The bottom line is that you may not be super thrilled in your current job. You may even be miserable, longing to quit, yet desperate to keep a paycheck coming in or hold onto your benefits. If you find yourself venting or complaining about work all the time, remember you're never stuck. Look for opportunities in and out of your workplace to parlay into your next job or career.  
Sometimes you don't have to look far for a solution. You might explore different departments or teams at your office where you can learn something new or find a project that excites you. Maybe you've lost interest in what you're doing, or maybe you never were interested, but it's pretty safe to bet there is something that interests you. 

My friend, a lawyer, loves jewelry. She doesn't love her job as a lawyer. On the weekends, she started helping a friend with her jewelry business. Six months later, it's almost like my friend has become completely different person. When I talk to her, she enthusiastic and -- happy! She hasn't given up practicing law, she just added something into her life that she enjoys.

You, too, can improve your work situation and find your passion, you just need to shift your mindset and take a leap! Life's too short to be miserable!

October 07, 2015

Are Millennial Moms Cooler than I am?



I am talking to 34-year-old Shannon O'Reilly-Fearn while her twin daughters are asleep. She tells me by phone that she was completely overwhelmed when she found out she was having twins. Now, wants to help other mothers of multiples, which is why she founded her business TwinLove Concierge.

So far, Shannon has been running her two-year-old company for about a year and put every penny she has earned back into it. That doesn't concern her at all. The more we talk, I learn that Shannon is tech savvy and well networked. She knows just where to go online to talk to other mothers of multiples. She has even used social media to find young moms in other cities to help her expand her business and spread her concept -- classes and consultations for expecting mothers of twins, triplets and other multiples.

Not only is she networked, Shannon is fearless and wants to create a company with a mission to help others. She represents the mindset of millennial moms, one I admire. I have my talents, but Shannon is WAY cooler than me when it comes to understanding how to market her business online and where to go to find her target audience.

Watch out employers, Shannon is the manager you want on your team, finding niches and bringing innovative ideas to your organization. But the Shannons out there, moms born after 1980, don't want to work for you if they can be home with their kids earning income AND fit their lives and their work together on their own terms.

In her new book, Millennial Moms: 202 Facts Marketers Need To Know To Build Brands and Drive Sales,  Maria Bailey, marketing expert and author, say there are an estimated 13 million millennial moms Millennialmoms_cover
in the U.S., only about a third of the 42 million millennial women, which means their true impact of millennial moms has yet to be felt.

 “To be competitive, businesses need these women who know how to build online relationships and understand the way millennials are communicating,” Bailey says.

In my Miami Herald column today, I delve into more of the ways millennial moms are different. To me, the most important way is mindset. These moms expect help from their spouse. They expect to balance work and family. They expect to earn income even while home with their kids. They expect to have online relationships with other moms and they expect to try new ideas out, even if the ideas don't work they way they originally expected.
If businesses want to hire and keep these talented women, they are going to need to do something different than they have done the last decade. They are going to need to go online to recruit these women, create enticing career paths, and engage with them on their unique terms. 
It's going to get interesting, but I see big changes ahead for the next generation of mothers in the workplace. It's about time!




September 17, 2015

How to survive a business lunch as a vegetarian

Years ago, I went on a business lunch with my co-worker and a banker. Half way into the lunch, she revealed that she kept a strict kosher diet. I hadn't realized that she had carefully selected both the place we went to and what she had chosen for lunch. What amazed me was that the woman regularly went on business lunches and somehow managed to stick to her kosher diet.

It couldn't have been easy!

A few weeks ago I thought of this co-worker when I got a phone call from Ana Marquez, a senior account executive with RBB Communications in Miami. Ana explained to me that it has been a struggle for her to stay a vegan because of all the business dining she does. "When a client invites you to lunch, you can't always dictate what they give you for food," she explained. 

Think about this scenario a vegetarian commenter wrote on a blog: "I have a lot of business lunches and when the discussion - 'oh why did you order that, you should try.....' it is sometimes difficult to come up with something diplomatic, to not sound like you are judging their choice - which is how so many people hear any explanation...." 

When we go to work, we bring our whole selves and that includes our eating habits and beliefs Sometimes, it's a struggle to make your work life and personal life fit together. Today my guest blogger is Larry Rice , president of Johnson & Wales University’s North Miami Campus. Four years ago he adopted a plant-based lifestyle after learning about its health benefits. It has been a challenge.  

Larry rice

About four years ago, I made a lifestyle change that has changed even the most simple business lunch with colleagues: I began following a plant-based, loosely known as vegan, diet.

Since I started this journey, rarely a week goes by without the following question from peers, colleagues, friends, extended family, and of course the occasional brave souls who just can’t help themselves when they notice something is missing from my plate.  They ask, “Do you miss eating ‘real food’?”  I think I disappoint many with my usual response, “Not ever.”   

My greatest challenges when I transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle were the social changes among the people within my circle of influence. I was not prepared for, nor did I understand, to what extent eating animals protein had been a part of my culture and identity.

My supportive wife and two daughters began this journey with me. Some of my colleagues, including my assistant, also follow a plant-based diet. Yet, it was shocking how many acquaintances and colleagues noticed.  No matter how discrete I was, whenever I would join others for lunch or dinner, I found myself having to explain, sometimes in great detail, why I was no longer eating animal products.

These days, my challenges come from dining out for work.  My job requires me to participate in many business meetings over lunch or dinner, so I can offer a few friendly dining etiquette tips which are helpful whether you are following a special diet, or dining with someone who is doing so.

  1. Always remember the art of dining out is about the fellowship or establishing connections. Don't let your eating preference (or your colleague’s) hijack the conversation.
  2. Don't be defensive or evasive when asked questions. Colleagues may innocently ask how you vary your diet or get certain nutrients. They may also divulge their interest in eating plant-based a few days a week and ask for restaurant recommendations. Be willing to share.
  3. Take initiative. When meeting colleagues for lunch or dinner meetings, I'm often asked to select the restaurant either out of consideration for my lifestyle, or because colleagues want to try a completely plant-based meal.
  4. Be patient with the server. Many servers confuse vegetarianism, veganism, and plant-based.

Today, there are a number of great resources out there to educate people who are considering a plant-based lifestyle. The book Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease, along with the documentary Forks Over Knives and the CNN special “The Last Heart Attack,” prompted my interest in plant-based cuisine and helped me develop the lifestyle I follow today. I have also been fortunate to work at Johnson & Wales University, where colleagues in our College of Culinary Arts are a great source of information.

What’s most important, in both my personal and professional interactions, is that I see my diet to be a change in lifestyle and a personal choice. People have to make choices that are right for them. As such, I am always willing to have a conversation, but I am mindful that I should not impose my views on others.

Ana told me recently she has expanded her vegan diet and become a vegetarian, giving her more food options for business lunches. The good news is that slowly, the restaurant industry is offering more choices to customers including more vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, she says. For people who dine out for business and have diet restrictions, it's still a challenge. But Ana says, it is becoming more doable!



September 09, 2015

Balancing work, family and teaching on the side



My friend Jodi Laurence, a healthcare attorney, just started teaching health law at night. She smiles from ear to ear when she talks about her experience in the classroom.

Have you ever thought about teaching? I don't mean teaching full time. I mean teaching during your off hours...maybe at night or on the weekends...

Those who fit teaching it into their work life balance love it. They say they are getting a lot more out of it than money. 

I've been thinking about the rewards of teaching as a side gig ever since I met Aaron Olsen at a conference in Miami. Aaron lives in Chicago, works as chief talent officer at Aon and just wrote a book called Leading with Strategic Thinking.  He told me his book idea grow out of his experience teaching at night at Northwestern University. He also told me that he and his wife, a stay-at-home mom, take turns teaching one evening a week so that someone is always with the kids. I asked Aaron how he balances work, family and teaching and he shared his insight:

Aaron_olson-6215 croppedMe: What has been the most challenging part of juggling work and teaching?
Aaron: The challenge is really the time, as any hour spent in class or grading student work is time I could otherwise be spending at home. It takes some mental energy too, but thankfully the class I teach is directly related to my day job so it isn't switching gears that much.

Me: Do you feel as if you need employer buy in to have a side gig as a teacher?
Aaron: Yes, I went to my employer to get explicit permission when I was first approached by the university. We have a "no moonlighting" policy at work but this was seen as a case that was complimentary to what I do for the firm. In fact, they really liked the idea since it reinforced our company's brand as a thought leader in the field.

Me: Did your wife always teach or will this help her keep her foot in the door of the working world while raising kids?
Aaron: Jeanne does use her teaching as a way to stay active professionally. It helps her maintain her network and is also a way to keep current in her field.

Me: Do you and your wife intentionally take turns teaching? How does this affect your home life?
Aaron: We trade off class terms over the year - I teach in the winter and spring, she teaches in the fall. The classes we teach are in the evening, so one person is at home with the kids while the other is out. We've also gotten a sitter for one night a week so that we still get some time to ourselves or to stay on top of errends.


In the past few years, landing a side hustle at a local college or university has become easier with schools paring back on full-time faculty and using more adjuncts. Now, as the school year kicks in, a growing number of professionals are juggling side gigs as teachers to gain less obvious rewards. ( I wrote about the trend in my Miami Herald column today)



* A side hustle as a teacher actually helps some professionals excel further at their full-time jobs.

* Others find that by teaching something they are passionate about, they are happier in all aspects of life

* For a professional who wants a new challenge, being on a college campus with young people asking smart questions helps improve skills, expand networks and could even improve marketability.
* Knowing you teach a course, people at work are more likely to turn to you for advice on your expertise on a particular subject.
* Professionals find teaching keeps them current and student questions offer them insight.
Keep in mind that balancing work, home life, and a side job as a teacher can be tricky. Class time is just one component. Teachers must prepare a syllabus, lesson plans and a grading system. According to the American Association of University Professors, the typical equation for calculating preparation and grading time for a three-credit course is three hours for every one hour of class time. It’s safe to assume that adjuncts put in a good 135 hours during a semester. That's a lot of your free time so make sure you're up for it!
Those who do it say it's well worth sacrificing free time for the benefits they receive.


August 14, 2015

Something more important than "fun" at work

I consider my job fun and I love that I do it from home. But at times, interacting with editors from a distance makes me feel unappreciated. I typically only hear complaints or tend to catch them on the phone when they are grumpy. I have learned over many years in the workforce that happiness at work (and what you're willing to put up with) comes not only from our job title, but also feeling like we're appreciated.

My guest blogger today is Neal McNamara, Communications Manager at TINYhr, software to increase employee engagement.  McNamara contacted me to let me know about the correlation between worker happiness and recognition at work and some surprising discoveries his company made when it surveyed employees. You can reach Neal at Below is his take on what makes us engaged at work.


NealThe other day at work, I got a very nice thank-you note from a colleague congratulating me for a relatively minor thing I had done.

What’s special about that? The colleague works in the sales department, I work in marketing. We’ve spoken to each other maybe three times. All I know about him is that he likes sports; I don’t like sports at all. We don’t know each other well. That’s why his thank-you to me was so meaningful. He took the time out of his day to pay attention to me, a gesture as shocking to me as it was pleasant.

Showing appreciation for a colleague at work (or even your boss!) is extremely powerful. A new report by the employee engagement specialists at TINYpulse has revealed that frequent recognition reduces turnover, increases the fun-ness of work, is good for branding, and even makes management look good.

TINYpulse is an app that sends one-question surveys to employees every week, which managers use to fix workplace issues. Drawing on survey results from over 500 clients, they were able to find correlations between employees who get lots of work appreciation with other positive aspects of work.

Unfortunately, the study revealed that too few employers are taking advantage of such an inexpensive way to boost morale. Only 47 percent reported getting recognition at work, which means that 53 percent of workers reported low levels of recognition.

Another knockout finding was the effect of appreciation on retention. Any employer knows that replacing an employee is expensive. Replacing an employee can cost up to 150 percent of their salary, and it can take up to eight months before a new employee becomes fully productive.

But take heart: the employees who reported getting lots of appreciation appeared eager to stay in their jobs. They were the most likely to score highly on the question, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how enthusiastic would you be about reapplying for your job?”

The report also revealed a surprising fact about fun in the workplace. The stereotype of a fun workplace might include items like a ping-pong table, free beer, and beanbag chairs. However, recognition dwarfs those perks. TINYpulse found a strong correlation between recognition and workers describing work as “fun.” When asked what makes work fun, 70 percent reported that it was their peers. Only 8 percent credited fun-and-games with making work fun.

The benefits of recognition also extend to the boss. Employees whose bosses gave them frequent, consistent recognition scored high marks. Essentially, workers were more likely to rate their bosses favorably if they got a “Nice job!” when it was deserved.

To put it simply, recognition is powerful. I know because I experienced it firsthand, and it improved my day. As much of a cliché it is, I’ll definitely pay it forward.

That’s an example of how one small gesture can change a whole office.


August 13, 2015

How to return from vacation and stay relaxed


You are on your way back from vacation feeling rejuvenated, but after a few days, you feel like you need another vacation. The tsunami of work comes flooding back with a vengeance. Projects and deadlines you had sidelined now are front and center, and dirty clothes still await your attention.

Is this just the inevitable evil of vacationing from work, or is there a way to return from time off without stress?

The good news is that it is possible to make a smooth transition. This week, I returned from a 10-day vacation feeling great. I followed some of these tips and my return to reality was easier than after prior summer vacations. 

Here are some suggestions for how to return from vacation and stay relaxed:
Start before you leave. Get into the mindset that work may pile up, but you will be going forward with a fresh outlook and a better state of mind. Executive coach Eric Rogell advises you create a “first day back” plan before you leave. “It’s easy to get sucked into emails and phone calls, but those are time and energy drains. Hold off on those and do the important things first. Stick to your plan.”
Delegate. While you're on vacation, if someone else can do it, make sure someone else is doing it. During her vacation this summer in Napa Valley, Kathryn Orosz, a Miami insurance broker and winery investor, designated an associate to cover for her at work. She forwarded email messages that need handling to that person: “They copied me back so I could stay in the loop on how it was being handled. I had to remind myself not to answer anything, just to move the email along.” By delegating, Orosz said she avoided a backlog of correspondence and could jump back in on transactions when she returned, without much stress: “I was just responding on the end of the continuum rather than going back in time.”
Decide upfront how you will handle email. Your decision will make all the difference in your level of post-vacation stress. Rogell said if you’ve created an out-of-office message for your vacation, include directions for whom to contact while you are out and keep the message on for an extra workday. An extra day gives you space to get things sorted out without new expectations piling on. “Use that day to get to the priorities you want to get done,” he said. Even with an out-of-office message, most people check their emails, even if only sporadically. If your emails have piled up, consider making a quick scan, flagging priority messages and deleting all others. Chances are, if it’s important, someone will follow up with you.

Create a buffer.  Professional organizer Diane Hatcher says giving yourself a day or two buffer between vacation and work makes the return much easier. Some people try to maximize their vacation by returning the night before they return to work. They sit on the plane or in the car dreading the next morning and the harsh return to reality it represents. Hatcher advises against that approach. Give yourself at least a day to unpack, wash clothes and open mail, she said. “Sure, unpacking signifies the end of vacation,” she concedes, “but there are consequences of not emptying your suitcase right way.” An unpacked suitcase becomes another thing piled up to tackle while readjusting back to work. “Get it over with, close the door, get dirty clothes into wash, clean clothes put away so you don’t have it hanging over your head,” she said. Instead, you can return to the office ready to take on the workweek.

Schedule properly. Rogell, who loves to take adventure vacations, plans something relaxing the last day of vacation and something fun to look forward to the first post-work evening. He also cautions against packing your work schedule your first day back. Be OK with giving only 70 percent, and don’t force yourself into a 10-hour day, he advises. The goal should be to hang on to that vacation recharge as long as possible.