How to Get Back to Work After Vacation

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Most employees are reluctant to get back to work after vacation (even if that vacation was a staycation). Getting back into the swing of things can be challenging. But there are ways to make it easier for yourself, and for others.

A Zapier / Harris Poll survey found that 87% of knowledge workers dread various aspects of returning to work after taking a vacation. Of those workers, 37% said they feared getting back into a routine and 31% said they dreaded catching up on admin. Respondents also mentioned reasons such as the post-vacation blues, feeling overwhelmed by a busy schedule, and feeling unproductive while catching up on work they missed.

Anyone who has had to face going back to work after a relaxing break can relate in some way to those who responded to the survey. Loyola University professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences, Dr. Angelos Halaris told CNN that it’s normal to have negative feelings about getting back to work after vacation.

According to Dr. Halaris, there are various reasons for the post-vacation blues. He explained that many people overindulge in food and drink, don’t get enough sleep, and enjoy the freedom and fun of spending time with family and friends.

Stress on the body caused by overindulgence and the stark contrast of the comparative drudgery of work with the fun times spent with loved ones creates the perfect conditions for those feelings.

Use the following tips to make getting back to work after taking a vacation easier for everyone.

Back to work after vacation

1. Prepare for Your Return Before You Leave

Prepare to get back to work after vacation before you leave. Complete as many tasks, respond to as many emails, and tie up as many loose ends as possible. Remind your team and let your most important clients know you are taking time off from work. Set up an out-of-office reply for your email.

Make a list of ongoing projects as well as priority tasks or projects to attend to when you return. If you are an employer, manager, or team leader, provide your workers with a list of duties and tasks to complete while you are away. Lastly, provide your team with the details of the person to contact in an emergency.

Spending time preparing for your return should make it easier to get back into the work groove.

2. Ease Your Way Toward Work

Include a buffer day or two when deciding on the number of leave days to take. Those days come at the end of your vacation, as they give you a chance to re-orientate yourself at home. You can unpack and do laundry, spend time bonding with your pets, and go shopping for the essentials you’ll need during your first week back at home.

With all that out of the way, you can get back to work after vacation without the stress of knowing you still have a pile of laundry waiting for your attention after a busy day.

Need some extra leave hours or a longer break during your first post-vacation day? It’s super easy to inform colleagues about any changes in your work schedule via actiPLANS:

  • Just open the mobile app to leave a quick note about a short absence, indicate when you won’t be available and why.
  • And if you want to plan a longer-term vacation, check your current PTO balance, or submit a time off request for the future ahead, you can always open actiPLANS Online and run an insightful report or manage your time off calendar.

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3. Have an Early Night

Go to bed early the night before you start work again. You may have enjoyed many late nights during your time off, but an early night is one of the best ways to support a happy and productive return to work.

According to, getting sufficient sleep supports mental health. Sleep helps to reduce anxiety and depression, and it can help you to be more productive. Speaking to Business Insider, workplace expert Lynn Taylor said that going to bed early the night before, and starting work earlier on your first day back, can help you avoid an avalanche of work at a time when there are few distractions.

4. Check Your Diary Before Returning

Check your work diary, daily planner, or calendar the day before you get back to work after vacation. Be sure also to check any team or shared calendars. You will be able to prepare yourself mentally for the following day, and you can decide whether to move any appointments that are not urgent to a later date.

This is one way of ensuring you do not need to face the stress of first-day surprises, such as the need to review policies or a meeting you did not know about.

5. Divide Your First Day into Time Blocks

Take a slightly slower approach to your first day back at work after vacation by dividing the day into blocks of time and taking regular breaks. Try taking a break of between 5 and 10 minutes after every three hours of work.

Do not feel compelled or pressured into working at full steam on your first day back in the workplace. Your body and mind need time to readjust to life after vacation.

6. Don’t Focus on Your Emails

Respond only to important emails on your first day back at work after vacation. In the Zapier / Harris Poll survey mentioned above, 26% of respondents said that catching up on unread emails and messages was one of the things they dread about going back to work after vacation.

According to business writer and speaker Michael Kerr, you should focus on productive work rather than email activity on your first day.

7. Get Rid of Distractions

Get rid of as many unnecessary distractions as possible when you go back to work after vacation. Log out of your social media accounts and mute or switch off your phone notifications unless required for clients or coworkers. Limit the amount of time you spend chatting to coworkers and avoid meetings that aren’t important or compulsory.

Reducing the number of distractions can help you to focus on achieving your objectives for your first day back at work.

8. Bring a Souvenir to Work

Bring a coffee mug, mouse pad, pen, desk ornament, or another souvenir that is appropriate for the office when you get back to work after vacation. According to Inc., UC Riverside psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book, Myths of Happiness, explains that recalling vacations and other trips can be a source of great pleasure.

The happy memories evoked by your souvenir can be a source of positive energy that can help you get through the comparative drudgery of your daily work routine.

Back to Work After Vacation: Final Words

The above tips are relatively easy ways to prepare to return to the daily grind after a few days or weeks of relaxation. Choose those that are most applicable to your circumstances and make them work for you.

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