As many as 25% of employees return to the office after a long, relaxing summer vacation feeling tired and lazy. So, how do you get back on track? You could try this.

Imagine if your kids came back from their summer holiday claiming to be tired and indolent – would you give them another 2-3 weeks break so they could get back into gear? A few weeks in which they only have to focus on doing parts of their homework? Or would you expect them to get back on track with the grammar and math as soon as possible?

Would the Tour de France let the riders start the stages and tell them to take it easy the first week and then get into the game when they feel like it – with the hope that they will catch up in the last two weeks with a maximum pressure on their shoulders every day?

Experts on stress management often claim that employees should be given some peace and quiet right after their holiday – but that’s not true. You wouldn’t let your kids do it and you wouldn’t let an employee do it either (also assuming that the employee wouldn’t be satisfied with only 2/3 of his salary the first month).

It all about getting back on track as quickly as possible

Hopefully, you made a plan for what needs to be done – which goals to achieve in the third quarter or second half of the year – before your vacation started. And hopefully, you tidied your desk. If you haven’t done that, here are some hands-on, productive tips:

Clean up your desk and prioritize your assignments

Make a list of priorities including which tasks are urgent and which are important (use the Eisenhower Matrix Principle – know it or Google it). Only prioritize – do now start working on any of the assignments. Even if you think “this will only take 3-4 minutes,” the amount of 3-4 minute tasks will eat up your day. So:

Discard everything that is long overdue, and everything that is not your responsibility. However, send an email about it to the person who gave you the task. Just so he/she knows.

Delete everything that is not relevant for you (missed deadlines, CCs in emails, etc.)

Re-assign tasks that don’t belong on your list of most important to-dos. The people you re-assign to will then evaluate if it’s important to them.

Plan when you are going to solve the rest of the tasks. Keep deadlines and the time you expect to spend on each task in mind.

Sort out emails and snail mail

1. If it’s not important to you or your company, hit delete

2. If it only takes 30 seconds, do it now

3. If it takes more than 30 seconds, put the task in your Outlook calendar or to do list and reply the sender when he can expect the problem solved

Have a nice lunch break with your colleagues

It’s during this time that you can all talk about what you’ve been up to. Everyone is free to share their holiday experiences instead of walking around the office telling the same stories 3-4 times – and disturb people who are trying to get some work done.

Plan goals, deadlines and tasks for the upcoming period with your manager/boss

Things may have happened during your vacation that will influence you or the people you work with. You need to focus on what’s important to you. Actually, studies show that employees waste up to 50% of their work time on project or tasks that have no importance to them. Therefore, work together on planning out what you need to put at the top of your list of priorities and what you don’t need to focus on at all.

So, finally…

The table is clean. The assignments are prioritized. And you will quickly get back into gear. Now, get to work.

Welcome back!

This blog post was written by Søren Ellegaard from Train Company. Søren’s expertise is within personal efficiency training. Read his other post: 6 Tips on How to Stay Efficient during the Summer Holiday Season.

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