Reduce the Back to Work Horrors!

The alarm goes off and I roll over, still indulging in the fact I don’t have to get up yet. I’m relaxed and enjoying the time off. Whoever decided 3 weeks in France was a good idea should be given a round of applause, and first crack at the crème brûlée shell. I've even managed to progress from ‘ultimate beginner’ to ‘regular beginner’ with my French language skills (Je n’en crois pas mes yeux!)


My brain kicks into gear and I realise, with a jolt, today is the first day back at work after my European sojourn. I rush to get ready and organised, pushing my body and mind to get back into ‘normal’. Where is all my holiday energy going? Surely this post-holiday invigoration can’t just disappear?


Is it possible to keep this refreshed feeling going after a holiday?


I thought I would investigate.247a


Not long into the search, I found an article by Alexandra Samuel. It says you can reduce the ‘holiday hangover’ by following some easy steps. While the term ‘holiday hangover’ makes it sound like taking a trip is an unhealthy thing you need to recover from, I think she makes some good points. Instead, I’m going to call it the ‘back to work horrors’ and give you the top tips I took away from her article.


Planning Before You Leave

To make sure you return to work in a positive mindset, and stay in that mindset, make a plan for your return to work.

1. Clean Up the List: Finish the tasks on your to-do list, and leave any non-urgent enjoyable tasks for when you return. That way, the tough stuff is done, and the easier tasks can be done when you’re still getting your holiday brain back into gear.

2. Leave a Note: Leave a note for your future refreshed-self a note of where you are up to with your work, so that it’s easier to get started when you return.

3. Build a Buffer: Avoid filling the calendar for your first 2 – 3 days back with large projects or multiple meetings. Give yourself a chance to get back into work mode by resisting the urge to book everything in for your first days back.


Productive ‘fun’ when you return.

1. Review Big Goals: Use your recharged batteries to look at the year ahead. What do you want to achieve in your work and career? How will you do this? This means making sure your work and personal goals are both helping you work towards these things you want to achieve (i.e. check for conflicting goals – taking on greater responsibility at work may be in conflict with trying to achieve better work-life balance)

2. Get Creative: Use the first few days to make the most of your new energy – this is a great opportunity to work on something you enjoy, and perhaps something innovative or creative you have been putting off or neglecting

3. Keep Your Boundaries: Leave your phone on silent or even leave your out of office reply on for a few days. When work comes your way, be clear on any ‘backlog’ you need to accomplish and ask your colleagues which projects/tasks need to be prioritised.


Don’t Forget!

Revisit Stories: Engage with your colleagues on your break, and share stories from your holiday. Tell them what you really enjoyed and even what you’re looking forward to doing (or doing again) in the future.


Top Tip:


Taking a few days to get back into your work routine is normal after a break or holiday. This means you have successfully been able to detach from work and have allowed your body and mind to have a break. By planning ahead before you leave, you can build in a buffer and avoid the back to work horrors when you return. Make the most of your revitalised-self by taking the opportunity to work on something creative or innovative!


Alexandra Walsh (Holidaying in Le Marais, Paris) Associate Consultant Psychologist


‘Instead of waiting for your next vacation, set up a life you don’t need to escape from…’

 – Seth Godin

Catch Alexandra Samuel in Harvard Business Review: