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We look forward to vacations but dread our return, knowing work will overwhelm us.

Bill Murphy Jr., of media-branding firm Some Spider Inc., canvassed entrepreneurs and business leaders and came up with these tips that might help you:

  • Come back on a Wednesday or a Thursday: This seems odd – even kooky. But Chris Allen, a psychologist and executive coach, says when you return on Wednesday or Thursday you only have to get through two or three days before you have the weekend off, so it helps you ease back into work. Airline fare is usually cheaper mid-week as well.
  • Start “work” the day before: The tip he heard from the most people was to not go back to work the first day after the vacation. But that doesn’t mean not doing anything. Take time to lay out what you intend to accomplish in the week ahead.
  • Meditate in the morning: You are calm and refreshed. On your official first day back, get up early and meditate. Nik Ingersoll, co-founder of Barnana, which creates banana-based snacks, says this: “Set your intentions for the day, week, month at the end of the meditation.”
  • Take a few minutes to find out what happened: Whether you completely unplugged from work during your vacation or maintained contact, you will still be a bit out of the loop. Leon Rbibo, president of The Pearl Source, an online store for pearl jewellery, sits down with each of his key direct reports, stopwatch in hand, and gives them 60 seconds to provide the highlights of what he’s missed. “If it can’t be said in 60 seconds, it wasn’t important enough in the first place,” he says. Even if you’re not a company president, you have key people you normally connect with and can discreetly try a similar short conversation.
  • Delete most e-mail: You are probably swamped with e-mail and wondering what to do. Gene Caballero, co-founder of lawn services company GreenPal, urges a heavy deleting session. He only keeps e-mail with attachments. He figures that if it was really important he’ll be e-mailed on the item again.
  • Read e-mail in last-to-first order: Some messages are at the end of an e-mail chain, and the issue may have been settled or you can more quickly get up to speed.
  • Focus on big projects: Plan to have at least two high-priority items scheduled for immediately after your return, says digital marketing consultant Spencer X. Smith. “Instead of returning to work with a whimper, these meetings will both get you excited and force you to step up your game immediately. That momentum will carry through the rest of the week,” he says. If people report to you, Jesse Gassis, founder of e-cigarette company Bedford Slims, suggests encouraging them to work on “forward-thinking projects, sometimes outside of their expertise” when they come back to the office. It creates energy and gets them thinking of next winter rather than summer.

But there’s one more piece of advice, counterintuitive and perhaps controversial: Don’t stop working. “Don’t be afraid to blend in work during your vacation,” says Michael Massari, senior vice-president of national meetings and events for Caesars Entertainment. “ Take advantage of the technology we have available today, such as Zoom, Skype and mobile e-mail, to stay productive. This also allows you to go on more vacations for longer amounts of time while not jeopardizing your productivity.”

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Somewhere in there is help for your own next encounter with the post-vacation challenge.

How to give a great introduction

As you rise in your career and outside group activities, you may be called upon to introduce a guest speaker. Indeed, presentations expert Nick Morgan says it’s often where people give their first speech. Here’s what he advises you to do:

  • Brag about the speaker so she doesn’t have to brag about herself: You are offering a third-party endorsement of the speaker, lifting her up in the audience’s mind. It’s not an opportunity to brag about yourself. “The idea is to tell us why we should care about the remarkable person who is about to speak to us so that we can get amped up about hearing the speech,” he writes on his blog.
  • Don’t read the speaker’s resumé: In fact, don’t read anything. Although you may be nervous and want to write out the introduction, your voice will likely go singsong when you read and that will cut the sense of authenticity. Make a few notes and conversationally say a few charming things about the speaker’s life story.
  • Get real, emotional and authentic, if you can: “The best kind of introductions tell us how the speaker has rocked your world, so by extension said speaker will now rock the audience’s world.” If you have only a small prior tie to the speaker – you just met her 30 minutes ago – maybe somebody else can fulfil the introductory role better.
  • Don’t try to be funny: The worst introductions he has heard came when the person making the introduction tried to be funny or clever. Above all, don’t poke fun at the speaker. Build her up.
  • Provide the basics: You’re answering three questions for the audience. Why is this speaker so worthwhile, exciting and relevant? Why is this speaker the person to be talking about the subject of the speech? Why is this speaker particularly wonderful for this audience?
  • End with, “So please join me in welcoming…”: That starts the applause and allows you to get off the stage, leaving the focus on the featured guest.

Finally, limit your introduction to less than three minutes. People want to get to the meat of the evening. That’s not you.

Negotiating your salary over e-mail

Increasingly, a job offer can come by e-mail, with the salary outlined. Here are some phrases to use and avoid for negotiating that salary in a return e-mail, from Glassdoor blogger Lillian Childress’s interview with Lewis C. Lin, CEO of Impact Interview.

Effective phrases:

  • “Is there any wiggle room?”
  • “If it’s not too sensitive, do you mind if I ask you what the salary range is for this role?”
  • “Can we discuss the other components of the compensation plan?”
  • “How willing are you to…”

Ineffective phrases:

  • “I will not accept anything less than…”
  • “I need a higher salary to pay my bills.”

Quick hits

  • Don’t overschedule your days. Research shows that the more self-imposed deadlines we have, the less productive we are that day, since deep work suffers, Lifehacker writer Patrick Allan reports. Attempt to balance appointment days and wide-open days. Schedule appointments for early morning or late afternoon.
  • When the imposter syndrome was first discussed in the 1970s, the notion of feeling like you had somehow been lucky to achieve career success was considered primarily a female problem. But a new study suggests that under pressure, imposter syndrome may hit men harder than women, triggering more anxiety and worse performance. The difference might be due to traditional gender norms that place a greater expectation on men to be competent.
  • Career advice from billionaire philanthropist Melinda Gates: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” 
  • It’s not HR’s job to eliminate risk. It’s HR’s job to advise on and mitigate risk, says consultant Tim Sackett. Bad HR tries to eliminate risk by threatening people with dire consequences: “You can’t do that, Jim, because we’ll get sued.”
  • If you want to work with excellent people, you will often have to deal with quirky people, says blogger Ron Edmondson.

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