Updated on 01.02.08

Getting the Momentum Back

Trent Hamm

This morning, I woke up and returned to work for the first time since December 21 – and I really, really didn’t want to go. I had thoroughly enjoyed being at home with my family, catching up on my writing and on some personal tasks, and just recharging after a very long 2007.

It’s hard to recharge and get going again after downtime like this, especially spiritually fulfilling downtime. I’ve found that the following things usually help me in getting back in the “earning money” swing of things after downtime – these techniques, especially on the first day or two back, really help me get the ball rolling again.

Have a healthy, fuel-filled breakfast I personally like a small bowl of oatmeal to start things off. I cook it while getting ready and eat it just before leaving for work – it warms me up and provides nutritional fuel for the day.

Keep something nutritious and sweet to munch at your work area (if allowed) I like to peel clementines (basically small oranges). I peel about six of them in the morning and munch on them throughout the day – delicious, and with enough natural sugar to keep the pep level up.

Handle all of your backed-up correspondence in one batch, then close your email program for the day. This usually takes me two or three hours, and leaves the rest of the day for me to actually accomplish work tasks rather than playing the email game. On a normal day, I check my email regularly, but close it when I need to focus on tasks.

Work on a one-day project that can end your day with a sense of success and accomplishment. The best way to return after a long break is to focus on a small project, one that can be accomplished on your first day back. That way, when you walk out at the end of that day, you walk out with a positive sense of accomplishment.

Spend your lunch taking a walk and eating something very light This triggers endorphins, keeps you awake, and lifts your mood naturally, and these are big things needed on your first day back after a break.

In short, one should return to work after a vacation seeking to amplify the aspects of the job that are enjoyable, and to tackle them with a positive and energetic outlook. This will get your return off on the right foot and make your first day back one full of energy, so you can keep maximizing your income and working for your financial future.

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  1. Laura says:

    And when you return home, try to bring a small aspect of that “vacation” into your daily life.

    If there’s one thing you always focus on when longing for vacation, it should be a larger part of your life. Your walk is a good example, but a quiet half hour with a good book or a family puzzle work just as well. It will help that recharged feeling last longer between breaks.

    PS-Thanks so much for the hot cocoa recipe a few weeks ago! It’s perfect after shoveling snow!

  2. Stephen says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I like your blog; I’ve been reading through it today. I like the ‘simple’ wisdom. Keep up the good work, and happy new year!

  3. sp says:

    I had to smile at this post. I only had one day off each week, so it was easy to get back in the swing of things at the office. It felt like I never really left! ;-)

    The bad part was not having enough time to recharge at the end of the year. The time between late December and the beginning of March is the busiest time of year at my office, so there was not enough of a break at the end of the year before the work picked up.

    Any tips on how to avoid burnout, before I start to experience it?

  4. > Handle all of your backed-up correspondence in
    > one batch, then close your email program for the
    > day.

    I smiled when I saw this one. From a guy with 316 items in my inbox [beep] oops, make it 317.

    Best Wishes,

  5. I really like to start the day back after a vacation by doing a “mini” weekly review, GTD-style. I look through all my active projects and pick a couple of small tasks that I can move forward on. *After* those couple of tasks are done, I check email and voicemail to avoid an all day session.

  6. Jason says:

    I’m with you…this was by far the longest day at work in months!

  7. The breakfast in the morning really does help…the heavy as opposed to light lunch doesn’t!

    One thing that has been helping me a lot though is waking up earlier and earlier every day. It’s pretty uplifting to wake up early and think calmly about the day ahead.



  8. I had the same issue with trying to get back the momentum again for the new year. My break from work was even longer, from Dec 17 onwards until now! But how I tried to refocus was to look at what projects I had left hanging last year and get back straight at them. Of course, setting some deadlines also helps. But the year end getaway sure helped me to recharge my energy level. Made me realise I should plan more of these mini sabbaticals this year!

  9. Joe says:

    Great post – I only hope that I can keep it in mind when I finally head back to work next week after 2 weeks away!

  10. T W says:

    Great post.

    I was wondering…..

    I didn’t want to go back to work after two weeks off. My wife didn’t want to go back to work after 5 days off. It’s not that we hate our jobs it’s just that they can be difficult to deal with, the politics, the co-workers etc. We often come home drained and just beat, we eat dinner; spend a few minutes as a family and then it’s off to bed.

    So, what I was wondering was, how many others are like that? Does anyone love their job so much they don’t mind going back to work after a break?

  11. Katie says:

    @ T W – I may be in the minority, but I don’t mind going back after a break. No, I don’t like the first day dealing with the influx of e-mail and getting my brain back in “work mode” – but it’s never a question of not liking the company, my co-workers, or my tasks/projects… I really enjoy all three.

    I suppose that is also why I carry over so much vacation per year without meaning to, I never feel the need to “pull a sickie” or “take a personal day” just to get a break from work as it’s something I truly enjoy.

    I honestly think the key (for me) is to find a company and people/culture I fit in with well. I could do the same work elsewhere and enjoy it much less, for me, the “make it or break it” is the atmosphere – not my choice of profession.

  12. Just Simple says:

    This is a great ways for me to start off my day. I’m a sales staff, and after relaxing for one week… It’s quite hard for me to get back my focus on my work.

  13. That inertia is sometimes hard to break through and I share the exact same feelings that you have. I like these tips you have for getting re-motivated though. Refocusing with some food in your tummy sounds like a good plan!

  14. Gatorzone says:


    Great call on the clementines! What a tasty treat. I have found the secret to better health by eating these instead of sweets! Very good suggestion. My wife came home with a box yesterday, unannounced and I had several last night and several today with my lunch. What a great thing to add to my diet! I love the site. Keep up the good work!

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