Once again, summer has passed us by too quickly and work is silently creeping over our shoulder. So here we are, facing the reality of going back to school (or work) and waving the constant state of relaxation goodbye.

Here are a few tips on how to ease back into work mode after vacation.

Do embrace your post-vacation blues. It’s normal to feel sad that your vacation is over, so cheer yourself up by bringing in memories, whether they are recreations of your holiday meals or pictures. You can also already plan your next holiday to remind yourself that there is always another one in the future.

Don’t go back to work immediately after your return. Plan in a weekend to chill, prepare for your first day, or to get tasks done that you’ve been meaning to tackle for a while; it serves as a great transition and prevents an unnecessary first week of stress.

Do focus on what you like about your job or your course. Often the negative aspects you highlight are what makes people dread going back. Reflect on the positive parts and work on a positive attitude.

Don’t feel guilty about your time off. I have found myself feeling like I needed to compensate for my break on numerous occasions, and it only led to burnouts. Take it one step at a time, you don’t need to get everything done on the first day. 

Do make your transition more enjoyable. Feeling productive is all about getting back into your rhythm. Taking small breaks after tasks (e.g. getting a coffee or lunch away from your desk) can motivate you and get you back into your groove.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Don’t worry about letting someone down, taking on more than you are able to do only affects the quality of your work. The same applies to university. Fresher’s fairs will bombard you with many tempting opportunities for which you will want to sign up, but unfortunately will only overwhelm you if you don’t do so in moderation.

Do clean out your work space. A cluttered desk or inbox communicates chaos and leaves you feeling overwhelmed. Not only does a clean desk convey professionalism, but it also boosts creativity and productivity.

Don’t neglect your basic needs. Remember to keep up a decent sleep routine and stay hydrated to feel fresh rather than flustered.

Do organise your day. Whether this is scribbling a quick to-do list on a post-it or drawing up a full-packed bullet journal spread, you should take some time to reflect on your tasks and prioritise them. The Eisenhower Matrix is just one of the many helpful methods to delegate your to-dos and give you a better overview of your day, week, or month.

Don’t procrastinate. Yes, I too have the urge to procrastinate as I write this, but it does nothing but waste your time and reduce your accomplishments.

Do keep a notebook. Even in a modern office, I find it much easier to grasp my workload if I write it down on paper. Notebooks are a great alternative to phones (they don’t run out of battery for one thing) and a so-called brain dump: I like to write down anything from lectures to grocery lists or just doodles. Handwriting also boosts information processing and memory compared to typing. (Which is why I always rewrite my notes after class as a great way to save time during revision period.)

Don’t be unprepared, you don’t want to be caught off-guard by your task list. Get ahead with your reading, revise, or get some work done ahead to save time later on.

Do socialize. While your never-ending deadlines are forcing you to stay tied to your desk until you’ve caught up, remember to interact with your colleagues every now and then. Create study groups, but also balance productivity with fun hangouts or activities. Strong social connections reduce stress, increase happiness and engagement, and generally allow for a healthier life.

And most importantly, don’t freak out. You’ll get back in the rhythm in no time and still feel relaxed from the holidays while you’re at it.