The end of summer is like a super-intense version of that moment when your mom shut down your slumber party and sent you and your friends to bed because your fun was getting a little too loud. It all feels a little premature, and we wish we had a little more time to enjoy ourselves — but what Mom (or, in this case, Mother Nature) says goes, and it’s time to kiss this sweet season goodbye. Hopefully, your summer bucket list is complete!

With vacation season behind us, life suddenly feels a bit more routine — especially at the office. We’ve burned through our time off, and our bosses are a little less inclined to approve our requests for long weekends and extended lunches. It’s back to the grind, people, and making that transition after a beautiful summer of fun is not easy. For tips on how to weather this return to normalcy at work, we turned to David Brudö, CEO of personal development and mental health app Remente. Read on for his eight expert suggestions.

A woman rearranges notes on a glass wall

1. Focus your to-do list on small goals. It’s back to business (and not just most days but, like, every day), and if you’re struggling to tackle what feels like an intensely scary task list, consider whether or not you’re making your list the right way. A to-do list full of big-picture, somewhat vague goals will do nothing but overwhelm you. Instead, Brudö recommends breaking down each goal into smaller, more actionable items, each of which should have a “defined beginning, plan of action, and concrete end goal.” You’ll be less likely to procrastinate when the tasks seem more specific and manageable.

2. Use the Eisenhower method. Another tool for better managing your post-summer to-do list is the Eisenhower method, which involves building a two-by-two matrix to help you prioritize by classifying tasks based on their urgency and importance. By combining those classifications, each item on your list ends up marked as Important + Urgent, Not Important + Urgent, Important + Not Urgent, or Not Important + Not Urgent. “Most of us have a tendency to cram more into the Important + Urgent section than there really needs to be,” Brudö cautions. “This section should only be filled with absolutely emergencies.” Breaking your task list into these four categories will make it much easier for you to take a deep breath and work through those tough transition days ahead with a more realistic sense of what’s actually pressing — and what’s long-term critical but can wait for now. That Not Important + Not Urgent section (e.g., catching up on your bestie’s summer Instagram feed) should serve as a friendly reminder of what activities may tempt you toward procrastination.

3. Practice the Pareto principle to increase your efficiency. Also known as the 80/20 rule, the Pareto principle states that, in general, 20 percent of the time you dedicate to a particular project will lead to a (helpfully) disproportionate level of results — specifically, 80 percent. This idea reminds us that when we concentrate our efforts on the right things, we will be able to achieve better, more efficient outcomes. In other words, get focused! Set deadlines for projects that don’t have them already, and figure out which items on your to-do list can gain the most progress with the smallest amount of effort from you.

4. Say goodbye to distractions. Perhaps your summer schedule allowed more time for checking social media or recapping the latest episode of your favorite show with your BFFs, but those days are over. If you have a hard time stepping away from these distractions on your own, Brudö suggests going cold turkey. Turn off your phone, mute your notifications, and consider deleting any apps that would make your return to normal office life that much more difficult.

A woman sits happily at her desk

5. Change up your environment. If you’ve been in and out of the office enjoying summer vacations and WFH Fridays, now may be a great time to reconsider whether or not your current desk setup is inspiring your work. If instead it leaves you feeling unmotivated and tired, shake it up! Reposition your computer, add some new photos to your workspace, and see if you can brighten things with a bit of color. Workspaces are bound to get stale over time, so jumpstart your transition into fall by revamping yours. “Inspiring work environments can lose their effect after a time,” agrees Brudö. “It’s important to change things around every so often.”

6. Take a midday reboot. The dog days of summer may be behind us, but you’re still entitled to a daily stretch break — and taking one will go a long way toward improving your efficiency in this new season. In the early afternoon, step away from your desk and grab some coffee. When you come back, take a fresh look at your to-do list and see how you might be able to move your priorities around based on what you’ve accomplished (or haven’t accomplished) earlier in the day. “You will find that this technique means that you use your afternoon time wisely and don’t procrastinate because you feel overwhelmed by a long list of things that haven’t been done,” Brudö explains.

7. Stay motivated with positive self-talk. When the going gets tough (and summer is so, so over), the tough give themselves regular pep talks. “Dedicate a few minutes a day to writing down or saying aloud why you are doing well, what you’ve already achieved, and what the next goal is,” Brudö recommends. “It’s difficult to lose motivation when you are motivating yourself on a daily basis.”

8. Try new relaxation techniques. If the stress of the normal office routine is just too much, explore new methods for calming yourself down. Experiment with meditation, breathing techniques, stretching, or anything else that sounds particularly soothing. According to Brudö, the optimal times to try these techniques are just before breakfast or during your lunch break.

How are you settling back into the office after summertime fun? Tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)