Back To Work! 7 Quick Ways To Get Your Productivity Back After Vacation

Linda Le Phan

Everyone has felt the “end of vacation blues.” There’s also that feeling like you need “a vacation from your vacation”, particularly when your vacation involved a lot of activity and not much rest. Have you ever had that feeling?

Even if you’ve only been away for a long weekend, sometimes it’s just feel really tough to jump back into work after a stretch of time away.

Take advantage of these strategies to regain your productivity and ease your transition from vacation life to work life.

Take a Proper Break While On Vacation

The first and most important way to get your productivity back after a vacation is to actually unplug in the first place. Too many workers feel a nagging sense of guilt when they’re away from the office. Whether you’re relaxing on a beach or whitewater rafting through a canyon in Costa Rica, resist the urge to check your work email. Turn off your phone, go somewhere off the grid, and do whatever else it takes to unplug. You’ll feel much more rejuvenated when you head back, making for a smoother transition back into the office. Plus, research shows that work-life balance matters for your productivity.

Practice Good Self Care

Vacations themselves can sometimes be stressful, and even if you had a perfectly relaxing time, the transition back to regular life can feel tough. Take care of yourself to ensure you have the energy and enthusiasm to do your job well. Prioritize getting eight hours of sleep per night, drinking plenty of water throughout the day, exercising, and eating healthily. It’s not just physical health. Small things such as lighting a candle, ordering a fancier coffee drink than usual, or buying yourself something special can improve your psychological balance.

Show Up 20 Minutes Early

Heading to office early may be the last thing you want to do after taking a holiday, but you’ll thank yourself for it.

The first few days you’re back, give yourself an extra 20-30 minutes in the morning. Use this time to slog through your inbox, identifying problems or projects that arose while you were away. This will allow you to get a sense of what you missed and create a plan to deal with issues that require your immediate attention.

Ease Back Into Your Schedule

Going straight into a full day of meetings on your first day back in the office is setting yourself up for failure. If possible, arrange your schedule so that you can ease back into the swing of things. Give yourself at least two or three days to get back into your work routine before tackling a new project or packing your schedule. It’s best if you can plan this before your vacation. After all, you don’t want a huge presentation or an important meeting looming over your head while you’re trying to relax.

Break Your Responsibilities into More Manageable Tasks

After returning from a break, your to-do list is likely to be extensive. Even if you feel like you have the energy to throw yourself headfirst into projects, that’s an easy way to burn out. Instead, start by making a list of the major goals you want to accomplish in the next month. Break these goals into simpler, actionable steps, setting interim targets as you go. Taking things one step at a time will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed about all of the post-vacation work that has piled up on your desk.

Create Natural Breaks Throughout Your Day

Our brains are unable to sustain attention on one task for extended periods of time. Eventually, your mind will wander or you will become less productive. There a lots of ways you can go about taking breaks at work, but taking even 2 to 5 minutes can help your brain “reset” so that you’re ready to focus again.

Start by setting a timer that reminds yourself to take a quick break. You could spend your two minutes practicing a deep breathing exercise, doing jumping jacks or planks in your office, or simply walking around your building.

Plan Your Next Vacation

Sure, you just got back from France and can’t even imagine taking the time (or money) to travel again. However, it’s never too early to get your mental wheels turning about your next vacation opportunity.

Planning your vacation time months out has several advantages: you can strategically plan your time away to ensure you have adequate opportunities to recharge, while your supervisors have plenty of time to plan for coverage for your absence. Most importantly, a new vacation plan gives you something to look forward to. This can actually help you be more productive, as it provides a built-in milestone for your work goals (e.g., “My reward for finishing this massive project will be a long weekend ski trip.”)


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Linda Le Phan is the Content Marketing Manager at kununu US, a place where job seekers can get an authentic view of life at a company and where employers have a trusted platform to better engage talent. When she’s not creating content about the modern workplace, company culture, and life & work hacks, she is probably going out to get an iced coffee (even in Boston winter), raiding the snack drawer, or jamming to kununu’s Spotify playlist.