Summer Vacation Is Officially Over. How To Ease Back Into Work

Allowing time for reflection and planning can help avoid the back-to-work blues.

Summer Vacation Is Officially Over. How To Ease Back Into Work
[Photo: Flickr user Frank Kovalchek]

After a summer holiday slipping back into work mode can be a challenge.


Being greeted by an overflowing inbox and a hectic meeting schedule may cause you to suffer from the back-to-work blues, making it difficult to focus on that mountain of work in front of you. Business coach Robyn McLeod, says succumbing to the pressure to speed back into work can undo any benefits you may have received from taking a break.

Follow these tips to re-integrate to work after your holiday and avoid the post-vacation hangover.

Plan Your Return Before You Leave Your Desk

Making a successful transition back to work starts before you even leave the office. Schedule catch-up time in your calendar and make it sacred. “The worst thing to do coming back from vacation is walking into the office Monday morning with a slate of meetings and conference calls,” says McLeod. Blocking off time in your calendar to catch up on emails and reconnect with your job will help you find some stability and get the lay of the land before moving forward.

Have A Strategy To Deal With Email Backlog

Avoid the back-to-work email backlog by making use of email management tools. Outlook, for example, allows you to set up rules to move emails that you’re cc’d on into a separate folder than those that you’re listed as the main recipient on. This can help ensure what’s in your inbox are the important emails that you need to be looking at immediately upon your return.

Don’t Ignore Your Vacation

Bring some of the positive feelings you had while on vacation back to the office to keep your holiday high going. Adding a photo or small memento of your trip to your workspace can serve to remind you of the wonderful time you had and help you hold onto the positive energy that comes from taking time away to recharge.

Find Your Back-To-Work Excitement

Just like a new backpack can help kids get amped up about going back to school, having something to look forward to can help you feel excited about returning to work post-vacation. Think about one thing that excites you about the work that you do. Is there a particular project that you’re looking forward to working on, or an opportunity to become involved in a new initiative?


“[Taking a holiday] is often a time when people begin to question their role, what they’re doing in their work, and if they’re really happy in the work they do,” says McLeod. Allowing some time for self-reflection before returning to the office and finding something you can get excited about can help ensure you return to work with renewed focus and energy.

Decide What Are “Important” Rather Than “Urgent” Tasks

“So much of our time spent at work is wrapped up in things that are urgent, but not important,” says McLeod. Rather than focusing on the important tasks, such as development and long-term planning, we end up spending the majority of our days responding to emails and dealing with co-workers’ crises, putting off those tasks that we’ve identified as important.

McLeod recommends taking some time before returning to the office to think about what the important tasks that you want to focus on are and try to avoid getting sucked into everyone’s “urgent” tasks that can quickly derail you from your priorities.

About the author

Lisa Evans is a freelance writer from Toronto who covers topics related to mental and physical health. She strives to help readers make small changes to their daily habits that have a profound and lasting impact on their productivity and overall job satisfaction.