The holidays can quickly derail your work productivity if you don't plan ahead. We've all been there: you get back to the office after a long weekend, and spend the first day getting your mind back on track. We've put together a few tips to help you mitigate this. Try out whichever ideas you want, and enjoy both a relaxing holiday as well as a productive following week:
Post-holiday productivity starts before the holidays begin
Don't show up to work after a long holiday weekend with no plan. Showing up blind to the needs of the upcoming week sets the wrong tone for your day. Before you head out for the holidays, figure out exactly what it is that you need to accomplish the day and week you get back to work, and prioritize it appropriately. That way, you'll walk in after a long holiday weekend knowing the outcomes you're striving to accomplish at work, as well as the specific tasks that will get you there. Then you can show up and buckle down right away.
Do difficult work first and reward yourself with easy work later
The brain is the most energy intensive organ in the body, so you're better off getting brain-intensive work done in the morning, when you're (hopefully) well-rested and probably well-fed (don't forget to eat breakfast!). When you start to wind down mentally in between holidays, you can reward yourself with the more "mindless" activities that don't require as much brainpower.
Max out on sleep
An MIT study says that making sure to get a full night's sleep is essential to a well-functioning long-term memory - making it easier to remember essential information that allow you to do your job more efficiently. Even during busy holidays, make it a priority to stick with a bedtime that allows for 7-8 hours of sleep. Not only will you wake up feeling more energetic, but you'll be in a better mood, too. And don't forget, maintaining a positive mood is just as important to productivity as a calendar or to-do list!
Research indicates that regularly meditating, even for only 5 minutes at a time, significantly boosts mental focus. If you're feeling overwhelmed at work, try sitting quietly, with your eyes closed, for five minutes, focused only on breathing deeply. You'll quickly find that over time, this practice will allow you to clear your mind and open up your attention - much like wiping clean a whiteboard to take on new information.
Give yourself a break
If you set herculean standards of productivity for yourself, you'll inevitably miss those goals, especially after the craziness of a holiday. Then you'll become frustrated, and even less productive. Go with the flow, and if you come up a little short of your high standards after a holiday, don't worry too much about it: understand that you're only human, and this is to be expected sometimes. Take a second to say something nice and forgiving to yourself, and then breathe deeply, and get back to work.