It happens every year: in the roughly two and a half months that children spend on summer vacation, they lose about one month of overall learning from the school year. It’s a phenomenon known as the “summer slide”, and it effects students of all grade levels and demographics.
And while this effect is most prominent in school-aged children, you might have felt a similar phenomenon yourself, coming down from a long (or short) summer vacation—begging the question: can adults experience the summer slide, too?
We all need a little vacation now and again. It’s important to recharge your batteries, unwind, and unplug from the stressors of daily life. In the long run, it makes for more productive employees and improved morale.
At the same time, though, you likely find yourself a little disoriented on your first day back at work after spending some time away. It takes time (for some, longer than others) to return to a normal state of productivity and organization. From forgetting your log-ins to neglecting basic tasks you usually complete with ease, it’s never easy to get into the swing of things again.
However, there are some steps you can take before your return to work to try and alleviate some of the first-day-back confusion.
Go over your game plan the night before.
If you roll out of bed without preparing for your day the night before, you will still be in full vacation mode come morning. Setting aside some time after getting home from your trip—at least a few hours—to go over your plan for the next day, get acclimated, and unpack, is essential. It’s wise to jot down a list of tasks you want to complete for your first day back, but to keep expectations realistic.
Get a good night’s rest.
No one can perform at their best on very little sleep, especially if it’s the day after your vacation. Try to go to sleep a little earlier than normal, even if it means reading or going over the day ahead from the comfort of your bed—get a jumpstart on the unwinding process so you can try to catch up on rest you missed as quickly as possible.
Break up the day.
Try not to overwhelm your schedule on your first day back, if you can help it. Ease back into your routine instead of throwing yourself into it to avoid burning out by the end of the week. You want to keep your to-do list manageable without sacrificing productivity. There can be a happy balance between easing into the work week and remaining as constructive as possible.
The summer slide is a real concern for workplace productivity, and if you’re planning a vacation this season, it’s important to remember the benefits of planning ahead to avoid the post-vacation fatigue.