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Five ways to be productive after a holiday

Aug 16, 2018

We spend a lot of time throughout the year trying to be as productive as possible, so we need to make sure we also get enough holiday and down time to balance this. And, while switching off is fantastic, the benefit can be ruined by our struggle to get back up to speed when we return to work. Moira Dunne examines what can be done to make sure you are productive after a holiday.

The week before a holiday is often the busiest week of the year. We become super-productive as we crack through our to-do list in an attempt to clear everything before we leave. We want to make sure that we have communicated with everyone and tied up any loose ends.

In contrast, the first few days back from holiday can often be our least productive days. We find it really hard to tune back into our work. We can feel demotivated. We may still wish we were away and we don’t feel ready to resume the normal hectic pace. Even if we are happy to be back, it can be hard to get our brains into gear. All those projects, details and issues that were so clear before we left can seem very blurred the first few days back.

So how can we take control and be productive after our holiday?

Capture everything before you leave

Spend time thinking about the first couple of days back before you finish up. At this point you are really tuned into the finer details of every project or issue so this is the best time to record as much detail as you can. Prepare notes for meetings, jot down key points for reports, make draft plans for things your need to tackle that first week back. Expect to forget most of the knowledge in your head –  that is the purpose of your holiday, after all!

Strategically schedule your first days back

Some people like to ease back into things with a low-key schedule but I find the opposite works best.  I arrange a couple of key meetings to kick start myself back into a productive-mode quickly. I don’t welcome this approach on the first morning back but by the end of the day, I am glad.

Consider what works best for you, your role and your environment. But be prepared to challenge yourself if you need to.

Capitalise on your relaxed mind

If you have successfully switched off during your holiday, your mind will probably be free from all the usually stress and clutter. Some of the best ideas come to mind when you can see things more clearly and objectively. So, use this unique state-of-mind to do some creative thinking and planning. But be careful; you can sometimes be too free-thinking and unrestrained that first day back. Make sure you don’t upset anyone by speaking too openly or honestly.

Resume your routine

It can take some time to get back into productive habits when you first return. If you exercise on a regular weekday, try to resume the first day back to work. Enable your healthy eating habits by ensuring you have time to visit the supermarket before your first day to set yourself up for a healthy week.

Be nice to yourself

If you can, reward yourself for your productive return to work with an early finish time the first few days. Maintain some of your holiday-buzz by doing something you really enjoy, like a cinema trip, a spa treatment or a meal out.

Moira Dunne is the Founder of