Getting Back To Work Groove After a Vacation with These 6 Tips

work after vacation - Getting back to work groove after a vacation with these 6 tipsVacation and taking some time off is very important when it comes to your well-being. You get to relax a bit, clear your mind from your work matters and have more time to focus on your personal projects.

Eventually, you have to get back to work and depending on the preparation you have done, this experience can either be smooth or frustrating.

To get started the best way possible, there are certain things you can do before the vacation starts and certain tasks right after opening the office door for the first time.


Preparation (before the vacation)


1. Write an email to yourself before leaving vacation

Before I start my vacation, I write an e-mail to myself describing what tasks was I working on, what were the latest e-mails sent related to that task and what tasks I didn’t complete.

This helps me tremendously to put me back on the map with my work and I can get started very quickly.

2. Clear your inbox before taking a vacation

Another favorite of mine is to go through my inbox and make sure it is empty before leaving for vacation. Although I tend to keep my inbox empty anyways, at times there may be some mail that needs to be processed.

The fact is that your inbox is going to be filled with e-mail during your vacation, so you want to only have that mail in your inbox when you get back to work. Don’t let those old e-mails waste your time any longer – process them now and move them to appropriate folders or delete them.

3. Tidy your desk

How do you want your desk to greet you when you get back to work – is it welcoming and organized or full of paper and cluttered? I don’t know about you but I feel energized when I see a tidy and organized desk rather than one with lots of clutter on it.

Take some time to clean and organize your desk before leaving for vacation. This way the return will be so much nicer.


Getting back to work (after the vacation)


4. Check your e-mail first thing in the morning

To the contrary belief, there is a certain scenario when it makes sense to check your e-mail first thing in the morning. This scenario is when you get back to work from vacation.

Yes, you are going to spend hours by sorting, reading, deleting and processing e-mails in your inbox, but you need to do this to keep you up-to-date of what has happened in your company, team or project during the vacation.

Even when I’m not usually recommending you to check your e-mail as first thing, this is the only exception to the rule. This way you can actually prevent unnecessary work to be done when you know what is going on in your work place.

5. Scan through and delete all the unnecessary e-mail first

When you open your inbox, it is most likely to be flooded with e-mail. When you go through the subject lines, you will pretty much see if a certain e-mail is even worth opening or not.

What I do is that I scan through my mails and delete instantly all those messages which I know they don’t require my attention. If you recognize that there are lots of these e-mails, you can do couple of things:

a) If it is a newsletter, unsubscribe from it
b) If it is a mailing list you are part of, send mail to list organizer and ask that you could be removed from that list
c) If there is an e-mail you cannot get rid of (sometimes I cannot unsubscribe from an e-mail list), create a filter or rule to delete that mail automatically

6. Mail that cannot be acted upon, you should put to “to be processed” folder

When you go through the mail, there are going to be items which you cannot act on instantly. In those cases you should have a “to be processed” folder, into which you move these e-mails.

Once you have gone through your messages, deleted the unnecessary ones and moved the rest to “to be processed” folder, your inbox should be empty.

Now it is time to start going through the ones that need processing.


Starting your work after a vacation may take some extra time and energy. However, there are certain ways to make the transition back to office life a bit smoother.

Taking time to make certain preparations will make the return easier. Also, speeding up the e-mail processing is another way to make the transition from vacation mode to work simpler.

Your next tasks:

1. Put this blog post into action!

  • Try to make these preparation tasks (as well as the tasks when you get back to work) as a habit. Eventually you will do them automatically before/after a vacation

2. Share your experiences and tips on the comment area:

  • What are your pre/post vacation rituals for getting back up to speed on your work ?
  • Any tips you would like me to add to this list?

3. Spread the word:

I would appreciate it if you share this post on Twitter or on Facebook.

Timo Kiander

  • Just found your site via Blog Engage. Can’t agree more with your email tips here, and there is nothing more frustrating than those pesky mails that keep coming and seem to have no ability to unsubscribe.

    • Timo Kiander


      Nice to see you here!

      Yeah, those are really annoying. You have to do extra work to get rid of those unwanted e-mails.


  • Kraig

    Timo, great post.
    I will sort my emails by topic so I can finish reading the whole thread and determine if anything is needed, or if it eventually just got taken care of.
    Also, Checking in with your team and seeing if they need anything also prevents unneeded work. If you can’t remember it, it mustn’t be important.


    • Timo Kiander


      Thank you :)

      Catching up with your team is a good one too. I have had these calls too after I get back to work.


  • Hi Timo,

    I think most of us find it really hard to get back to work after having a vacation. Checking emails is one of the first things I do. But I haven’t really thought of doing some preparations before leaving. I think that is really a good and helpful idea so that we can get back on track easily. Thanks for these awesome tips! :)

    • Timo Kiander


      Just a little preparation will make a huge difference when you get back to work!

      Great to hear that you liked these tips :)