9 Things You Should Never Do When You Come Back from Holiday Break

Get back in the swing of things without wasting time on your full inbox.

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Let everything pile up

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A holiday break is supposed to be just that—a break—and promising to stay off your email can actually make you more productive when you come back. While unplugging feels great during your break, though, it can also make you feel in over your head when you get back to work. To avoid feeling frazzled on your first day back, get a head start while you’re still on break, says psychologist Ariane Machin, PhD, founder of Conscious Coaching Collective. “Separate yourself from your family and give yourself 30 minutes to go through your email inbox,” says Dr. Machin. “That would alleviate a lot of anxiety for the next day.” The trick is to limit yourself to that short chunk of time so you aren’t distracted by email notifications when you’re supposed to be relaxing. Here are 10 more mistakes that make you look bad at the office.

Return without a plan

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Getting back to your desk after a week off can put you in panic mode when you remember everything you need to accomplish. While you’re away for the holiday, plan the first three things you’ll do the morning you get back, suggests executive coach Lori Scherwin, founder of career fulfillment firm Strategize That. “Knowing what is next can make it easier to disconnect and find peace when away as you will already know what you are coming back to,” she says.

Ignore the chance make big changes

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Returning from a long holiday break marks a fresh start, making it the perfect opportunity to address ongoing problems, says Chanie Wilschanski, early childhood headship coach and founder of DiscoverED consulting firm. “That physical distance from the office building gives people a different perspective,” she says. For instance, if you’ve noticed certain coworkers always chat through meetings, keep them engaged by giving them a role during your next presentation. Making a big change in March can feel random, but employees will likely be open to trying something new around New Year’s. Try one of these 11 New Year's resolutions that make you stand out at work.

Make New Year’s resolutions that are destined to fail

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January might be a great time to start fresh, but New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep. A few strategies can make you way more likely to keep your commitments though, says Dr. Machin. For one thing, get specific about what your goal involves. Don’t just say you want to be more productive this year—define what a “productive” day or year looks like, and come up with attainable steps you can take to achieve that boost. “We get discouraged if we’re trying to get our long-term goal and it seems like we’re never getting it,” says Dr. Machin. Most importantly, acknowledge the obstacles that are in the way of your goal and come up with a solution before they trip you up, she says. For instance, if you want to be more productive but know that emails steal your focus, try turning the notifications off and checking in only when you have time. Use these 8 creative strategies for keeping your New Year's resolutions.

Let hard work go unnoticed

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If you’ve noticed your coworkers have made some New Year’s resolutions and are rocking at them, speak up. Don’t just send a generic “thank you” email to a notorious procrastinator who’s started turning assignments in way before deadline. “Show it in a way that you recognized they changed and worked hard to,” says Wilschanski. “That shows the person you notice them, and they’ll continue to move forward with that.” If you don’t say anything, your colleague might get demotivated and fall back into old habits.

Fall into post-holiday blues

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Getting back to reality after a holiday can be even harder than your typical Monday. “You go from the most joyful time of year to now it’s January and summer is half a year away,” says Dr. Machin. Beat the winter doldrums by finding a little extra joy in your workday. Try to do more of the projects you’re particularly passionate about, or reward yourself with a mental break after doing mundane tasks, she suggests. Check out these other 9 tricks for beating post-vacation blues.

Expect to get right back in the swing of things

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With emails, voicemails, and tasks piling up, it will take some time to get back into your normal routine. Take some of the pressure off by leaving your out-of-office message up for one extra day, even if you’re back in the office, suggests Scherwin. “This strategy doubles as a helpful way to give you breathing room while actually on vacation so you feel less compelled to keep up every second of the day,” she says.

Assume everyone is rejuvenated

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A week off work is supposed to be a stress-free time of relaxation, but it doesn’t always work out that way. You might be refreshed and ready to go, but your coworkers might still be frazzled from hosting out-of-town relatives. Get a feel for what your colleagues’ breaks were really like by specifically asking what they did for themselves over the holidays, says Wilschanski. Ask if they see any roadblocks ahead and whether you can do anything to help them succeed. “Asking really great questions really fuels the team,” she says.

Avoid work until the morning of

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Refusing to think about work until that first morning back can make it harder to get back in the swing of things. Take some time to transition from holiday mode to a work mindset. The night before the workweek starts again, lay out your office clothes and prep your lunch for the next day, suggests Dr. Machin. “Little behaviors that are work-related are cuing you to say it’s time to get back to work soon,” she says. Be sure to avoid these other 12 surprising work habits that make you look unprofessional.

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