Wisdom//

9 Ways to Get Back Into “Work Mode” After Time Off

It’s all about easing back in.

Jurgita Vaicikeviciene / EyeEm / Getty Images
Jurgita Vaicikeviciene / EyeEm / Getty Images

After a long stretch of holiday celebrations and vacation time, it’s time to head back to work, ostensibly refreshed and ready to hit the ground running again. But regaining focus can be easier said than done. That’s why we asked the Thrive Global community to share their best strategies for getting back into “work mode” after time off. From simple strategies that boost performance while reducing stress to specific steps to set career goals and prioritize your time, these tactics will help you get your head back in the game.

Zero in on your “why”

“I regain focus after the holidays by thinking about my ‘why.’ Why am I here and what is the mission that I’m trying to accomplish? That always helps get my juices flowing when I think about the impact I’m going to make on individuals and around the world. Let’s do this!”

—Chantelle Fitzgerald, leadership development/mindfulness trainer, Marlton, NJ

Re-establish your morning routine

“I re-establish my morning routine before beginning the work day. For me, this includes a short meditation, a bit of exercise, adding to my gratitude journal, and sometimes a little bit of reading.  This routine is hugely grounding, energizing, and helps me focus on what needs to be done the rest of the day.”

—Lyne Prud’homme, independent sales consultant, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Remember “the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”

“I regain focus on work using a few simple steps:

1. In order to prevent being overwhelmed after coming back, and the daunting, never-ending list, keep in mind that the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

2. I make a ‘brain dump’ list of all the tasks and projects I intend to accomplish in the  months/year ahead and draw from it by adding three items to my general weekly list. This allows for flexibility in planning, but more importantly, it always keeps my bigger goals in focus through attention, intention, and action.

3. I budget time for self-care each day by doing things like: meditation, exercise, going for a walk in nature, engaging in my hobbies, and more. If it’s difficult to carve out an hour to accomplish this, do two 30-minute or three 20-minute sessions. Sometimes, it’s more effective to split these activities in order to promote relaxation, restore energy, and boost creativity.”

—Lisa Cypers Kamen, optimal lifestyle management expert, Los Angeles, CA

Give yourself an extra day after vacation

“I make my return to work an easy slide by planning at least one extra free day after returning from time off. During this time, I get back to my routines and slide into a work mindset by checking my emails and voicemails, but take comfort in the fact that I don’t need to respond immediately because my out of office message is still on. I set it to indicate that I’m returning one day after I actually return. That way, people think I’m still out of the office and don’t expect any response from me until the day after I get back. Shhhhh.”

—Pat Obuchowski, executive and leadership coach, San Francisco, CA

Slow down and be intentional

“Instead of getting right into my never-ending to-do list, I’m starting 2019 in a more intentional way. So instead of checking my email, social media, and making my lists first, I’m doing 10 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of voice and physical warm ups, and using 10 minutes to pinpoint the necessary tasks of the day using my High Performance Planner. Slowing down and being intentional is actually helping me get more done and feel calm about what I have to do. It feels like I’m ‘easing back’ into work, but I’m actually going full speed ahead with the important things: my mind, my body, my service, and my connection with others.”

—Lisa Pezik, business strategist and content expert, Ontario, Canada

Use this two-step process

“Step One is to review my goals with feeling, meaning to read them out loud and with emotion. Step Two is to spend a few minutes visualizing each goal. The clearer you can visualize them, the more magnetic and compelling they become.”

—Bert Martinez, marketing consultant, Phoenix, AZ

Be kind to yourself in three specific ways

“I ease back into work by being kind to myself:

  • I take breaks. I build in natural breaks throughout the day to manage my energy. I’ll walk outside, stretch for five minutes, or take a few deep breaths to ground, center, and calm my mind.
  • I prioritize. I identify up to three goals for the day that, when accomplished, will make the day a win. Three feels like a manageable number for me.
  • I put ‘catch up days’ on my calendar. My first day back is call-free, and only about resetting and recentering. I don’t take meetings, calls, or work with clients on these days.”

—Amanda Gulino, founder and coach, Berkeley, CA

Really let go during your time off

“I usually feel recharged and re-energized after a long pause! Believe it or not, I go back to work with much happiness and anticipation. I feel so rested and relaxed that work seems really easy to jump back in to. The trick is to really let go of everything during your free days or week, sleep well and don’t think about work. It was difficult for me at first, but as soon as I implemented it, I went back to work feeling like a champ!”

—Mariella Stockmal, CEO, Santa Barbara, CA

Make a mini-list

“I always make up a mini-list after any holiday. If it’s too long, it’ll be overwhelming, but if it’s too short, it’ll be uninspiring. So I try to strike a balance that will set a reasonable pace and expectation. As with all my lists, I shoot for 90-minute windows of different activities, a mix of intellectual, physical, personal and professional, so I’m not bored, swamped, stressed, or lacking motivation. Over time, this mode of behavior has become part of my automatic response system, and a welcome habit I trust to get me up and running with viable projects that I know I won’t sabotage.”

—Concierge Jo-Anna, communications connector, Berlin and Cannes

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