Summer is that time of year when most of us go on holiday with a specific destination in mind – a sunny beach with a refreshing ocean or sea close-by. After being stressed-out year-round, we’re all looking for some relaxation, a time-out, or a period in which to recharge our batteries. But year after year we return to work only to feel more tired and overwhelmed by our tasks. Returning from a vacation we’d expect productivity to be higher, not lower and, alas, reality bites.
A number of easy tricks, though, could make a huge difference and get us back on track in no time. Here’s what to do to ensure your holiday actually does make you more productive and less tired when getting back to the office. But first thing first…
Why go on holiday
Before we get to the tips and tricks for ensuring office productivity after a vacation, let’s talk first about why you should go on holiday in the first place. Many of us tend to skip vacations since they can be more trouble than not – all the planning and packing and the disruption of your daily activities can be putting-off. And time off work also means less productivity at work. But there are obvious reasons that you should have in mind when deciding to go on holiday.
- Mental health reasons – A delicate subject to tackle when asking for time off, especially if you have to tell your coworkers where you’ve been spending your time, mental health situations are nothing to be ashamed of. Many of us go through rough patches in our lives, be it depression periods, severe anxiety ones or just mental fatigue. Being burnt-out or stressed-out can also point out a mental health problem and should be treated seriously, especially since it has a direct effect on your physical well-being as well. Not taking time off during these periods can actually harm both you and your work, as your productivity levels decrease when going through a rough time.
- Physical and mental fatigue – not all mental fatigue translates to mental health situations, but physical and psychological fatigue also impact your productivity and general well-being, which in turn takes a toll on your work. Being unable to concentrate or focus on tasks at hand, forgetting things, all these are signs of mental fatigue. And since research has shown that a resort vacation makes people feel more energetic and decreases their stress levels, what better reason than to go on holiday? Even a short weekend getaway can make you feel significantly less stressed.
- A creativity boost – If you work in a field where creativity is paramount, you should consider going on a vacation to give yourself a boost in imaginative abilities. Four days of hiking can significantly nurture your creativity and get you out of that rut.
Now that we’ve reviewed the reasons for going on holiday in the first place, we can take a look at some tips that will ensure your post-vacation productivity. The best way to safeguard this is by planning ahead. Before going on holiday, you should review all your ongoing tasks and possible future ones. You should also secure a couple of days at the start of the week for sorting out tasks that have come in while you were away. That will also give you a chance to catch up on emails and any work that has been done in your absence.
Planning ahead might also mean giving yourself something to look forward to when getting back into the office. This doesn’t have to be done before your holiday, but it might be easier and safer this way. You could buy yourself a nice tea you’ve always wanted to try or that you know you love, or a fancy brand of coffee that can brighten up your work mornings with a unique aroma. Whatever you choose, make sure it is something that you can enjoy while being at work.
Show up early
Since you might have some catching up to do during those first few days back on the job, you should also consider showing up early. You don’t have to wake up in the dead of the night to reach your office hours ahead of the starting time. 20 minutes should be enough to give you some time to catch your breath and see what tasks can be sorted and how. You can also use this time to deal with emails and tasks so that later on when your coworkers show up for work, you can have a nice chat with them about your holiday without feeling the pressure of the piling tasks.
This is a useful piece of advice regardless of whether or not you are coming back from holiday. To ease your way back into work, you should try prioritizing tasks. Sort them according to deadlines, importance, or time and cognitive demand. Go for short deadline plus low-demand tasks first, as these are probably the most important ones to deal with immediately and will also give you a sense of achievement, clearing up the to-do list.
There’s nothing worse than not being to catch a breath of air from time to time, especially after you got used to a relaxed vacation schedule. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Your productivity levels won’t increase if you work incessantly. Better to take more breaks for short periods of time, than to burn out by the end of day 1 back at work. Take it easy at first, and if you have a number of meetings coming up, check out some meeting room productivity tips, such as the ones recommend by YArooms, which will help you make the most of your time.
That being said, whether you’re preparing to go on holiday or you recently came back from one, now you know what to do to turn all those good vacation vibes into office productivity. Thinking ahead and having a well-thought plan for your time back at work can make the difference between post-holiday burnout and post-holiday productivity boost.