Long weekends are both a blessing and a curse. An extra day relaxing with family and friends can be just what the doctor ordered after a tough work week. The problem comes when you eventually have to step back into the office after an extended break. Before you know it, the Sunday scaries morph into Monday melancholy as dread builds over the inevitable piles of emails and assignments waiting for you on your desk. It’s enough to make even the most organized office heroes panic!

Don’t fall victim to the post-weekend overload. With a little bit of planning, your first day back from an extended break can be a smooth transition, rather than a jarring slap in the face. Here are our top tips for refocusing after a long weekend:

Build a Buffer

You know there will be work waiting for you, so it’s best to proactively build in additional time to get things done. Giving yourself even an extra ten minutes than usual to comb through your inbox and check items off the old to-do list can go a long way. If you need to, consider getting in a bit earlier or leaving a bit later than you might normally.

However, keep in mind that the rest of your team and people outside of your organization will also be hitting the reset button after the long weekend, so be sure to clearly communicate an altered schedule.

Beat Negativity

If you’re already facing an uphill climb, what good does it do to make things even harder with a negative outlook? Do everything you can to boost positivity before tackling the big day back. Need a little extra caffeine to get you going? Treat yourself to your favorite coffee drink. Can’t stop thinking about the weekend you just left behind? Crank up some of your favorite tunes to get your head in the right place. Whatever you need to do to feel comfortable and get back in your groove, go for it.

Be Aware of Your Priorities

Staring at an inbox overflowing with emails can be dizzying. It requires a lot of effort to read through each email, thoughtfully respond and keep track of full conversations – all while new messages are coming in. Plan ahead for information overload by developing your own system for prioritizing work items. Color coding, like using red for top priorities and green for less pressing matters, is one example of an easy-to-follow method for visually organizing the clutter. Whether it’s through tagging, creative use of folders or something uniquely you, find a process that works bests for your work style and stick to it.

Break Before You Break

Beware of burning out! If you attempt to plow through all of your piles of work as soon as possible, it can get overwhelming real quick. Instead, schedule regular breaks for yourself throughout the day; literally put the ten to fifteen minute chunks on your calendar for the day! Making the conscious choice to give yourself a mental and physical recharge is important for lowering stress levels and refocusing. Remember to drink water regularly, too! Work is important, but self-care should always come first if your stress levels are dangerously high.

Begin and End with Reflection

When you’re in the thick of it, it can be difficult to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Instead of getting lost in the shuffle of catch-up work, take a few minutes when the day starts and as its ending to take stock of everything in front of you. If it helps, write down your feelings and progress towards goals in a work journal. The important thing is taking the time to consciously focus on what you need to get accomplished and where you are at along your timelines. The end of the day review will help you to plan for the rest of the week, check-in with your manager if you need help and better appreciate your accomplishments on your first day back to the “real world.”

Coming back from a long weekend can be rough, but it doesn’t have to be! Get strategic about catching up on your work this time around. Do you have tips for refocusing at work after a long weekend? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!