It’s been a long time since we’ve celebrated the 4th of July fireworks. The laundry room is full of damp towels and bathing suits. And, the BBQs, outdoor concerts, and visits to the ballpark are winding down.
It’s a drag. And, while it was fun while it lasted, it’s time to get back to reality. But, of course, returning from your summer break is no easy feat. Thankfully, you can use the following nine tips to help you refocus and get back to peak productivity after your summer of sun.
1. Add a buffer day.
Flying back on a red-eye flight when you’re supposed to work the following day is rarely a good idea. You aren’t traveling across time zones? It’s still advised that you give yourself one buffer day between when you return from vacay and get back to work. The exception to the rule is if you are on a staycation.
How should you spend this day? Some suggestions would be to unpack, do laundry, get your home back in shape — run errands, and review your calendar. I’ve found that laying out my clothes for work puts my mind back in the zone. You should also try to reinstate your routines, like going to bed at your normal time or resuming your workout regimen.
You’ll have a much easier transition from vacation to work when you take this extra day off. However, if you don’t have that time — don’t give yourself an excuse — just do what you have to and get back to work.
2. Clean and declutter.
Even if you left your workspace is nice and neat, spend your first couple of minutes cleaning, decluttering, and organizing. Examples would be removing desktop clutter, going through your drawers, and filing paperwork.
This may sound elementary. But, organizing your workspace unlocks the power of a “tidy desk, tidy mind” mindset. More importantly, this simple activity can help you build up momentum to tackle your priorities.
3. Make a list of active projects.
To get back on track, try to get a clear idea of what you left on hold while on vacation. In addition to helping you pick up the pace, this will prevent you from getting discouraged.
To get started, list all your active tasks and decide which steps need to be taken to resume them as soon as possible. If you really want to make this effective, start with the project that you enjoy most.
At the same time, don’t get too carried away. Rather, try to limit yourself to no more than three manageable tasks. You don’t necessarily have to focus on big goals. But, they should be achievable so that you’re making progress.
4. Get caught up.
Ryan Kahn, founder of The Hired Group and author of “Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad,” recommends taking a step back before diving back into individual emails and projects.
“Figure out if there were any major events or changes that occurred,” he said. “This way, you’ll generally be up to speed before diving in deep into the day-to-day details of your work.”
Whether it’s through an informal team meeting or coffee chat one-on-one, this also gives you the opportunity to reconnect with your team. And, this may even assist you in getting back into work mode.
5. Keep distractions at bay.
Your inbox, Slack messages, and other notifications await your attention once you return to work. So, go ahead and catch up on these messages. After you’re all caught up, eliminate these distractions.
After all, how can you focus on more important tasks when communications are constantly pinging you from all fronts? The simple solution? Put your phone out of sight, close all nonessential apps, and inform others that you’re unavailable. You can accomplish the latter by blocking out your calendar or just closing your office door.
I’d also suggest that you schedule times to check your communications. Maybe during the first couple of days back, you could do this each hour or whenever you’ve completed a task. Answer any important messages you receive when you spot them. And, as for the messages that can wait, schedule a time to reply.
6. Take a five.
The human brain is incapable of focusing on a single task for an extended period of time. And, this especially after a long break like a summer vacation. So, as a result, your mind might wander, which will definitely hinder your productivity.
How can we avoid this? First, take short breaks throughout the day. That may sound counterproductive. But, these 2 to 5 minutes are needed if you want to reset your brain.
Consider setting a timer to alert you when you should take a few minutes to rest and recharge. Try deep breathing, stretching, or walking around your office.
7. Shake the rust off.
“During my years as a coach, when players enter into the preseason, they tend to have rustiness in two specific areas that stand out to me,” said Sharman White, head coach, Pace Academy (Ga.). “Those areas are ball handling and shooting. Those two skills tend to require the purest development when it comes to fundamentals and are easily detected when we evaluate our players early in the preseason.”
“To sharpen the skill of ball handling, we like to work on drills that require two-ball ball handling as well as weak-hand development drills,” adds White. “These drills help restore muscle memory as well as a keen sense of comfort with the basketball, which is needed as the competitive play nears.”
Obviously, I’m not talking about athletes like basketball players here. But, the concept is the same. If you’ve been away from work for a while, then it’s going to take some time to get back into a rhythm.
Go ahead and pace yourself. Take frequent breaks. And, give yourself time. You need time to reacquaint yourself with your environment and finding out what you missed.
And, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not working as fast as you normally do. Just like a basketball player entering preseason, you’re rusty. So, give yourself more time than you need to work on tasks until you’re back to game condition.
8. Perspective is key.
“Coming back from vacation is a great thing because you’ve had valuable time away to look at your working landscape differently,” states Carina Parry-Stevens for Productivityist. “When you return from vacation, you’re likely full of ideas.”
Instead of tossing them aside, “Take note of those little changes you would like to see that could improve the business,” she recommends.
9. Plan your next getaway.
You may have just gotten back to work. However, planning your next vacation can help alleviate the post-vacation blues. After all, having something to look forward to makes working a whole lot easier.
Best of all? It doesn’t need to be a long vacation either. It could be a day trip or a weekend excursion. But, again, the idea is to give you something else to look forward to if you’re struggling to get back into the swing of things.