How to get back into a routine

I’ve been struggling to get back into the groove for the past three weeks, which, even for me, is long. So, I thought I’d help myself and others like me by writing a post on how to get back into a routine.

The story

Three weeks ago, I came back from a ‘holiday’. I say ‘holiday’ but most of the time we cleaned up and emptied grandma’s old house—which was exhausting. At least I could sleep in during that time and get up at 8 instead of the now usual 6.

After that, I had a week of classes but the classes were so scattered and work was quiet that I was still in the lazy holiday mode.

Then my teaching practice started, and although I’m busy with lesson plans and whatnot, I’m not really making time for my university subjects—which is going to become a problem soon.

I seriously need to get back into a routine before this semester swallows me up whole like last time. If I don’t, I know how this will end: me in a panic, trying to do everything at once and then being able to get a single thing done. Chaos is my life.

To help me get back into a routine, I turned to the internet, and here are a few tips that I’ve found (in case you’re in the same boat as me). They are more applicable to when you’ve just returned from a holiday or just extended downtime.

Take a day

If you’ve arrived back from holiday and you have a day or two left before you have to get back to work, it’s a good idea to take a day and catch up on practical things. This could be doing things like grocery shopping (also refilling those greens and healthy foods), unpacking your luggage, etc. It helps you to have a clean slate before you go back to work or get back into a routine.1,2

You can also just take a day to relax before the rat race starts again. Speaking of which, make sure you’re also aware of any important upcoming events or meetings so that you’re not caught unawares.1,2

Pace yourself

There may be a million things to do back at work, but you don’t have to do everything at once. Prioritise the most important tasks and get to work on them—the rest can wait a bit.

Also, take breaks so that you don’t burn out the first week that you’re back at work. Break your work and tasks into chunks so that you slowly but surely make progress.2,3

Write a to-do list

We all know the handy to-do list (here are a few tips by the way) and it can help you a lot.

It’s a good idea to start with the items that you only need a few minutes for. If it takes less than five minutes, do it immediately, the saying goes. Also, if you can tick a few items off your to-do list quickly, it motivates you to tackle the rest and you’ll be in a better space mentally.2

Get rid of distractions

It’s so important to get rid of distractions when you’re trying to get back into a routine. Whether it be social media or chatty co-workers, minimise those distractions while you’re catching up with work.3

You can switch off your phone, or at least your data, put up the ‘do not disturb’ sign, or put on your headphones, and get back into the groove.3

Have a plan for emails 

Speaking of distractions, emails may be a necessary distraction. It’s nice to have the automatic reply that tells people to bug off while you chill, but you will inevitably have to do something about the hundreds of emails awaiting you.1

Let’s be honest, no one can empty their emails in one go. I think rather divide the emails into chunks, first paying attention to the most important ones. Then you can sift through the others. You’ll probably also need a couple of days to get through everything.1,2

I definitely have a problem with emails. I have too many email accounts for one person—one for work, one for my blog, and a personal one, and a student account. It’s a lot to take in and manage.

If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I usually break it up into chunks of 10 minutes reading emails and answering where necessary and then do something else—like grab a glass of water, or tea. This may not work for everyone, but it gets the job done for me.

Water—a lot of water 

When I’m in my routine, I drink quite a lot of water anyway, but during vacations, I slip up with it. Being dehydrated makes you feel quite off, so it will also be harder to get back into a routine if your body is not in a good place. So be sure to drink those eight glasses of water.1,2 Speaking of which…

Healthy food 

If you’ve indulged in your vacation or just off time at home, it’s good to reset your body with healthy food, like fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those greens. It really helps you to get back into a routine, and not feel bloated.1,2,4


I often have some post-adrenaline depression when I get home from a holiday or have to start working after extended downtime. Exercising naturally releases feel-good hormones and can help boost your mood.

You don’t have to have an intense workout; it can be something fun like dancing or Zumba as well. Jogging, yoga, going for a walk, or going to a class at the gym are all things that you can consider getting back into your exercise routine.1,2

Also, exercising outdoors and getting fresh air can do wonders for your body and mind.4

Get enough sleep

This is probably the thing that I struggle the most with after a holiday. If I don’t get enough sleep, I’m very cranky and moody, and more prone to depression. Just getting enough sleep can do wonders for your health and mood.1

If you struggle to fall asleep earlier at night, like I usually do, you can use calming pills or herbal sleeping pills to help you get back into the sleep routine. As you may have heard (or read) multiple times, to get optimal sleep, it’s important to go to sleep and get up about the same time every day. And much to my annoyance, it is absolutely accurate.1,2,4

Remember your friends and social life

You may not have seen all your friends and close colleagues in some time, so it’s a good idea to reconnect with them when you’re ready.

You can set up dinner dates and quality time with those you care about. It will also set you back into the mood of being at home and have a positive effect on your mental health.4

These catch-ups are also something to look forward to, so they will help put your mind in a positive space again.

Set new goals

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to plan world peace once you get back to the office, but it’s good to set new goals, even small ones, when you’re back at home or in the office. It’s great if you can write them down and tick down the ones you made progress on or completed (here are a few tips as well).

Be kind to yourself

Post-adrenaline depression is a real thing and can easily set in after a holiday. It can take a few days or weeks to subside, so during that time, it’s important to understand what you’re going through and accept it. It is important to be kind to yourself and realise that what you are feeling is normal.1

However, if it does not subside after a couple of weeks, there might be something else going on, and therefore, it may be a good idea to see a professional.


What do you think about the list? Is there anything you’d add? Let me know in the comments.



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I used these sources: