Keep the holiday feeling at work and perform better

By Liton Ali, learning director

By now, most people are back at their desks after their holidays and there’s that unmistakable cloud of gloom hanging in the air – but you don’t have to get caught under it. Keep the holiday feeling by continuing the habits you formed while you were off work.

Avoid rush hour

Returning to a dreary commute after two weeks of lazy, late morning strolls is depressing. If you can, make a point of skipping crammed train carriages and traffic jams by leaving earlier or later. Think about doing your first hour of work at home – the chances are that you’ll get more done with fewer interruptions.

Read a book during the day

While you were away, you probably found the time to open a decent book and feed your brain, distraction free. Consider keeping a book on your desk for reading breaks, and give your eyes a screen break from time to time. But remember you’re at work, and leave Game of Thrones at home in favour of a business book or non-fiction that will help you be better at your job. You’ll improve your productivity, so technically, reading it is still working.

Spend more time in daylight

You don’t need to be sunbathing to enjoy the perks of being outdoors. Getting some fresh air and spending some time in nature has masses of upsides, from improving your attention span to reducing stress levels. When you can, leave the fluorescent office lights and go out. You don’t necessarily have to wait until lunchtime either. Next time you have a one-to-one discussion, why not combine it with a walk instead of sitting in a gloomy meeting room?

Move more

We bet (or sincerely hope) you didn’t spend your holiday sat in an office chair, glued to a screen. Moving your body isn’t just good for your physical health – it also has a huge knock on effect on your mind, filling you with endorphins that boost your mood and your concentration. Get off the bus a stop early, or visit the swimming pool and pretend you’re in a nice hotel abroad.

Make time to be alone

Being away often means a lot of peace and quiet – the opposite of a busy, working office. If you’ve got a constant queue of people at your desk, how about booking yourself an escape (take your work!) to a meeting room for an hour or two? Having time alone allows you to recharge your batteries while focusing on quality work.

Switch your email off

Remember when you weren’t a slave to your inbox, just for a bit? It’s not easy, but with a bit of work you can get the same effect at home. First of all, remove the temptation to reply to an email the moment it comes in by turning off notifications and closing your mail apps. Then, remind yourself that most jobs don’t require people to react to incoming requests immediately. Finally, schedule email-checking periods throughout the day, maybe once an hour. (Bonus points: See if you’re brave enough to do the same with your phone.)

Eat a decent breakfast

Whether you overindulge on food or not, holidays give you time to have a proper breakfast every day, so you’re set up with more energy and a better mood every day. Make time for a real meal at the start of the day, and buy some of the posh healthy stuff that felt like a treat at your hotel buffet (though maybe skip the Prosecco.)

Limit your work wardrobe

Having to make lots of decisions wears you out mentally, and something you might have taken for granted when you were away is how limited your wardrobe was. Thanks to planning your capsule wardrobe in advance, you didn’t have to waste any energy working out what to wear.

Try the same thing with your everyday workwear. There’s no need for a Steve Jobs-style uniform, but have a little wardrobe clear out to save yourself the hassle.

Book some exciting activities

Whether you were thrilled by kayaking, museums or wine tasting on your travels, now that you’re back you should investigate what’s going on near you. Schedule some fun activities in your diary to keep you stimulated. You don’t need to limit these to personal time either – how about sorting out some team outings?

Pamper yourself

There are lots of people that will happily have a massage when they’re lying on a beach in Asia but would never dream of doing the same in their home town. Don’t wait for another holiday to treat yourself – these little indulgences are good for your mental health. Stick some pamper time in your diary – book a spa visit while you’re still in holiday mood.

Take a nap

Daytime sleeping may seem like a holiday indulgence, but evidence shows that a 25-minute nap likely to improve your performance at work by resetting your brain and giving your body time to recharge. Even though your body is asleep, your subconscious is still working, so you may find you’ve found the solution to a problem by the time you’re back at your desk.

Just do nothing at all

If you don’t think you can get away with actually sleeping, then think back to the moments where you could sit on a beach with nothing to do at all and daydream. Spending some time staring into space will do wonders for your willpower at work and help you perform better – once you’ve finished, obviously.