The dreaded day of going back to work after a holiday is here. Just thinking about all that you have to get done this upcoming week urges you to pull the covers up further over your eyes.
This day isn’t going anywhere, so you might as well face it by being in control of your own destiny!
While your mind may still be at the beach or the family barbeque, today is about being back at work. And if you don’t have time to get behind, I suggest you try out these productivity tips after a holiday or vacation.
BEFORE YOU GO
If you’re reading this before the holiday or vacation (or even the day before you head into the office), that’s great! These suggestions will make you even more ready to tackle your return.
Capture It All
Assume that you’ll forget everything you know about the tasks at hand. After all, that is the point of this time off. Before you go home for the holiday weekend or vacation, take time to organize for the day you get back so that you can launch right in as if you were never gone.
In other words, do anything that’ll make Future You thank Past You.
Review all your projects before the holiday. What key points do you not want to forget? What crucial details can you easily remember now but can easily be forgotten over a break? What do you want to cover during upcoming meetings on your return?
Use a tool that’s best for you to keep you organized, be it a digital app or pen on paper. Don’t try out new program because someone suggested it during this time. Apply a system that you know has worked for you in the past. You can try out that new gadget weeks into your return when you’re back into your routine.
Devise a Return Strategy
It’s easy to grow eager to run out the door on the day before your holiday or vacation. However, you’ll be so relieved that you stuck it out to the end of the day, especially if you spent that time strategizing a game plan for your return.
Make a list of three tasks that you can complete at the start of your day back. You’ll continue a productive pattern throughout the rest of the workday by beginning your day with tasks that you know you can complete from start to finish.
Assess your calendar for the week of your return. Is it cluttered with meetings? Evaluate whether the meeting is necessary to happen that week or if your attendance is at all necessary. There’s no point in sitting like a fly on the wall during a planned discussion when your efforts are more valuable elsewhere.
WHEN YOU RETURN
Get In Early
I don’t care if you’re tired or if you’re not an early riser. Arriving to your desk before your team gets in for the day will help your productivity immensely, especially after a holiday or vacation.
And an extra cup of coffee never hurts.
Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your usual time. Don’t stall by checking your email or reading the news. Go straight to your list of three tasks and make solutions happen. Make it a goal to have at least one of your tasks completed by the time the rest of your team arrives.
It’s office custom to take part in the “how was your holiday?” conversation, so set yourself up for success by being productive before your co-workers arrive. That way, you can treat this time as a short break, not as the chatter that slows down the start to your day.
Resume Your Trusted Routines
If you normally get eight hours of sleep before your upcoming workday, hold yourself to that schedule. If you normally start your workday with exercise before you head in, don’t skip. Plan to maintain your usual healthy lunch pattern instead of rushing to the nearest drive-thru.
Don’t cut corners on your healthy habits because you’re returning from a holiday or vacation. One cheat day can easily turn into weeks of new unhealthy patterns. By keeping to your healthy patterns, you’ll find it easier to jump back into your previous pattern of productiveness.
Make it Manageable
It’s your first day back from the holiday or your vacation. Don’t expect yourself to achieve everything. The goal today is to get back in the habit of maintaining your level of productivity.
Prioritize what’s urgent and what’s important. Make space on your schedule to solve the urgent issues, then create a plan on how to solve issues that are important this week. If you can delegate, especially to a peer more suitable to the task, then delegate (as long as you make sure to check in on its status and to thank your peer for their assistance).
If there’s a big project on your plate, break it down into actionable steps. See what you can complete today, tomorrow and this week so that you make progress on it.
Take Short, Natural Breaks
Yes, you can be on a roll with a task for an hour or so. But eventually, your eyes will glaze over or you’ll find that your mind starts to wander from the task at hand.
So take short, natural breaks throughout the day. I take short breaks in the morning and afternoon to fill up my water canteen, clean my dishes and refill my coffee.
Don’t hesitate to take a lunch on the day you return from a holiday or vacation. Even if you keep it to 30 minutes, a break allows your brain to reset and think more clearly so that you can maintain productivity during your workday.
Congrats, you just completed a successful first day back! That doesn’t mean you should go on a shopping spree, but don’t let your hard work go unnoticed by you.
For those who think this one is silly, I also struggle with this recommendation. Treat this as “if I achieve A, B and C, I can reward myself with D.” That way, your reward is something you’ve earned, not for doing something you have to do anyway.
And that something is returning to work after a holiday or vacation, like everyone is expected to do.
Treat yourself to a dinner out. See a movie at the cinema. Take a bath. Whatever helps you relax and unwind after a successful day so that you can continue the pattern tomorrow!