As the wrapping paper and champagne bottles are tossed, the fireworks fade with the tropical tans, and our return tickets are handed over, being more productive when coming back from a vacation could prove difficult. Whether we're reminiscing about the amazing times we had doing just about everything, or we're looking back at the sweet indulgence of doing nothing, returning to our cubicles, our textbooks, and our early alarms isn't exactly the most thrilling of things.
Because when we open those emails or start those papers, we can't help but to imagine that just the other day at this time we were laying around somewhere wonderful, without a care in the world. And now how are we supposed to go back to our world of obligations, responsibilities, schedules, deadlines, and all other zen-draining tasks? Well, it doesn't have to be as dramatic or painful as I'm depicting it here.
Transitioning from that carefree vacation mode back to work mode isn't impossible and won't take forever. It can be as easy and stress-free as you allow it to be. Here are seven ways to help get you back on the work grind after your holiday:
1. Take It Slow
If you work at an office, leave on time. If you have the tendency to stay late and try to get ahead, resist the temptation of tackling everything at once. It's important to approach your work tactfully and to prioritize, rather than diving into it all and just overwhelming yourself. As pointed out on LifeHack, make a point to focus your mind and to only work on one item or task at a time. Why stress yourself out if you can avoid it? Chances are, you'll get a lot more done when your mind is at ease and focused on fewer items rather than spread super thin and all over the place.
2. Allow Yourself To Relax
And speaking of relaxing, just because your vacation is over, that doesn't mean your chill privilege has been revoked. It's normal to feel a little guilty for lounging out a bit right after a vacation, but you need to allow yourself little breaks and cut yourself some slack when you feel like you need it. As Tony Schwartz pointed out for The New York Times, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less. He cited multidisciplinary research showing how strategic renewal — things like daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, and more vacations — boosts productivity, job performance and, obviously, health.
3. Plan For Catch-Up Days
Of course, the ideal situation would have been to wrap up any and all projects before vacation, but we're only human. Some things may very well have been left on the back burner, only to be found waiting for us upon our return. So, keeping this high likelihood in mind, it's good to dedicate days to the specific purpose of catching up and tying up those loose ends. Or at the very least, organizing your tasks and creating a comprehensive schedule that makes the most sense for you to quickly get back on track. Plan a day to sift through the emails, scan that syllabus, review that calendar, and just understand what it is you need to get done and when, before you jump into doing it. This will save you a lot of stress that will come with figuring it out as you go because you didn't give yourself any breathing room or mental prep.
4. Make Lists
As Paula Rizzo, author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to Be More Productive, Highly Successful, and Less Stressed, told Fast Company, when juggling a lot of tasks — especially with catching up — things will fall through the cracks, and lists help keep you on target to get those things done. But, as she also added, the key is making the right kinds of lists that will actually help and to use them correctly. For example, it's important to match your tasks with your productivity levels. Save the more cognitive and creative tasks for when you're most fresh and alert and place the more menial tasks that can wait toward the bottom of these lists.
5. Tidy Up
Clean and declutter! Clear away any disorganized mess you come across that could get in your way or leave you feeling frazzled as you're trying to get it all together. By physically tidying up your workspace, you'll not only feel a sense of psychological relief, but you'll be able to think more clearly and produce better results, Kristoph Matthews, CEO of on-demand storage company Boxbee told Business News Daily.
6. Review Your Calendar And Schedules
Knowing what you have coming up and staying on top of your routine will not only make you feel more at ease, but it will make it easier to return to the things you need to do. Things won't be hectically flying at you out of nowhere and have you hiding under your desk. By being more mentally prepared for what lies ahead, approaching those tasks won't be as stressful.
7. Plan For Something Fun
You'll find it way easier to go back to work when you have something to look forward to. Who says the vacation really had to end? Help power yourself through the week by rewarding yourself with a fun little trip over the weekend, or organize something fun with your friends one night. Or even something as simple as treating yourself to your favorite beverage at the local café during your coffee break, or buying a new book to make your commute more interesting can help make your first week back less brutal, as suggested on LifeHack.
And, of course, there's always starting to plan your trip for next year.
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