Back to work after your holiday – how to do it successfully!

Goodbye holidays – hello work

Many people find that work begins in the last two days of the holiday, mentally speaking. You’re lying there on the beach, your feet buried in the warm sand, a fresh breeze on your face and wham, there they are! Thoughts about your first days back at work after your holiday! Like it or not: they mostly creep up on you and, before you know it, your thoughts are going round in circles. Like a game of ping-pong, you go from “Oh, just enjoy the last days” to “When was the first meeting again?” and you can’t stop. Annoying, but normal.
Fortunately, there are a few tricks that will help you to enjoy your holiday to the end and to be relaxed when you start back at work. We will let you in on the secret!

“Remember then: there is only one time that is important: now!”
- Leo Tolstoy -

Maybe you're thinking: “that’s easy for Tolstoy to say”. True, because being in the here and now is easier said than done. So that you can successfully clear all thoughts of work from your head during your last days of holiday, it’s worth planning post-holiday re-entry in advance.

Forethought instead of afterthought

Who likes to jump in at the deep end after their holiday? Nobody! If you want your re-entry to work to be as painless and relaxed as possible, rely on the following tricks:

#Go back to work on Wednesday: yes, Monday is the classic day, but this does not mean that we can’t also go back to work in the middle of the week. Starting back on Wednesday means three days at work and then the weekend again. This will cushion the worst shock a little after a long holiday.

#Out-of-office lies: many people perceive the first two days after the holiday in particular as hectic, demanding and fraught. This is because everyone knows that you’re back and they all want things from you at once. On top of the many conversations and telephone calls, you’re also busy with an overflowing inbox and in-tray.
You can’t really hide from your colleagues in the office, but your business partners don’t necessarily need to know that you’re back already. Put a false date of your out-of-office. State cheekily that you will be back from your holiday one or two days later than the actual date. This way you will have plenty of time to read your emails and prioritise, prepare yourself for your first meetings and take care of the demands from your colleagues. This makes re-entry into post-holiday office life much less stressful. You may even have the option of working from home for your first few days back, which will make your re-entry even easier.

#A good handover is more than half the battle: really. Don’t be too relaxed about handing over tasks to other people before your holiday. The better you brief you colleagues about your projects and organise the handover, the less “firefighting” you will need to do on your return.

Fully relaxed for the first week back

Sure, we would all like to enjoy our holidays to the full, right up to the last second, and ideally return home from our holiday paradise with the last possible flight. But so that re-entry into work is not too painful after your holiday, it’s worth coming home a bit sooner and properly planning the first days back in the office.

#Finishing things properly: many people want to savour their holiday right down to the last minute, so they plan the return journey for the very last day. Although this is entirely understandable, it can actually negatively affect your wellbeing and re-entry into your working life. It is advisable to return home at least one or two days before the end of your holiday. When you have jetlag to contend with, it makes sense to take a few days to get settled back at home, before you go back to work.

#Do not set any important deadlines or appointments in your first week back at work: when you go back to work to discover your calendar is full of deadlines, this can quickly result in getting stuck knee-deep in stress on the first day after your holiday. Nobody wants such a situation. So that this does not happen, plan any deadlines or appointments for the second week back at work after your holiday. This way you can arrive back calm and relaxed, work through the queries that have arisen in your absence and get an overview during the first week. This will be beneficial for your wellbeing and your motivation.

#Get an overview: a few things will have piled up in your absence. Make some time for them and read all your emails and letters first, before acting on them. Proceed in an organised fashion and categorise: what is spam, what has been completed in the meantime, what was just for information? What needs to be done as soon as possible, what can be delegated and what can wait? Make a plan and follow it step by step.

#Take breaks: so you can cope well your working day again, you should allow yourself more breaks than usual. After a long holiday, you are no longer used to concentrating fully for a long time and you need more time off in between. Take a walk around the house, stand up regularly and walk around the office, look out of the window – and chat to your colleagues, because you also need to manage things socially. And, even if a mountain of work is waiting for you, make sure that you finish work at the right time and don’t do any overtime! Remember: what has already waited a few days for you can wait one day longer! There is nothing more demotivating than doing x hours of overtime in your first week back.

#Indulge in your holiday memories: work and holiday don’t need to be opposites. You can spice your working day with holiday memories and take a little of the holiday mood into the office. Add a holiday snapshot of the beach as your new desktop wallpaper, put a souvenir from your city break on your desk or a picture painted by your children on the wall. Whatever it is, just glancing at it will put you back into the holiday mood and sweeten your working day.

#Plan your next holiday: if the post-holiday blues get too much for your, plan your next holiday. The prospect of another break will motivate you and give you a fresh perspective. The shorter the time until the next weekend break or family holiday, the better.

Remember: if re-entry into working life is difficult despite all these measures, you are not alone! Many other people feel the same way! And no matter how many times you hit the snooze button on your first day back at work, sooner or later, you will need to start working! And actually, you enjoy your job! So get going – the spectre of post-holiday blues will pass and you will quickly find your usual rhythms again and manage your working day – with your lovely holiday memories never too far away. Good luck!


So grausam ist «Back to Work» (2020) Blog post. Available on:
Willkommen zurück! (2019) Blog post. Available on: