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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Productivity

Back to the Grindstone: How to Beat the Post-Holiday Slump

When the champagne bottles have all been popped, the presents unwrapped, and the pull-out couch at your parents’ put away, it’s time to trade the shopping bags for your briefcase and get back to the grindstone.


After even just a few days off, coming back to the office can be tough. The mountain of work awaiting, the holiday cheeriness gone, the prospect of another day off nowhere in sight—it’s enough to make anyone run back to Santa, begging for just one more night of eggnog and carols.

But before you turn to such drastic measures, consider the following tips for a smooth return to the office. With the right attitude and plan of attack, you’ll be out of your post-holiday slump in no time.

Schedule a Short Week

If possible, schedule your first day back in the office for midweek. (This year works perfectly, since New Year’s Day is on a Tuesday—add Monday or Wednesday to your PTO, and voilà! A 2-3 day work week.) If you make arrangements to use a vacation day or two, you’ll have a shortened week—the perfect pace to ease yourself back into office life.


Come Back Refreshed

Sure, you’d probably much rather continue to indulge in Christmas cookies and post-holiday sales, but instead of dwelling on the fact that vacation is over, focus on reaping the benefits from your time off. A full night’s sleep, a break from the fast-paced stress of the office, a mental and physical break from your desk—these are all things that you’re probably not used to getting, so they should help you feel refreshed and ready to focus on the new year.

Treat Yourself

OK, OK. If it’s not enough to remind yourself of how renewed you should feel after the holidays, indulge in a special treat the morning of your first day back. Pick up a peppermint mocha instead of filling your mug with the weak office brew, or nosh on a cinnamon roll instead of your usual fiber-rich cereal. Resolutions or not, a festive pick-me-up will sweeten your morning enough to propel you through those painful first few hours back.

Arrive With Time to Spare

On the morning of your return, plan to arrive an hour or so before your co-workers do. I know—setting your alarm earlier than usual is not how you anticipated ending your vacation. But after a few days off, you’re bound to have a mountain of voicemails and emails waiting, and you’ll accomplish much more if you can sort through them without the distraction of your co-workers’ holiday photos.

Don’t Overcommit

Your first week back is guaranteed to be busy, so with that knowledge, don’t overcommit to meetings or new projects. If you try to cram too many things into this already hectic week, you’re bound to overwhelm yourself—and potentially let down the people counting on you.

When following up with clients or co-workers, schedule meetings for the following week. If your boss requests a rough draft of the financial report, let her know it’ll be in her hands by next Wednesday. By giving yourself additional time to prepare, you’ll feel more in control. You’ll also have the option of finishing assignments earlier than you promised, which always works in your favor.

Be the Rock

If you, office superwoman, are experiencing the post-holiday slump, chances are your officemates are feeling it, too. So instead of commiserating with your co-workers, provide a positive example by plowing through your backlog of work and maintaining an optimistic attitude. The morale in the office will quickly rise back to its usual cheeriness if you refuse to let your co-workers dwell in their eggnog-induced daze.

As you transition into post-holiday life, let your time away from the office fuel your work ethic rather than stifle it. Dive into the new year anticipating major accomplishments for you and your company. And if you absolutely can’t tear yourself away from the holiday season—well, it wouldn’t hurt to start shopping for next year.

Photo of woman at work courtesy of Shutterstock.

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