5 Steps To Reclaim Your Momentum After The Holidays

So here you are. January…whatever, 2013.momentum

The holidays are over, but you still can’t quite get into your normal routine.

You can’t seem to get started – and if you do get started, you find it difficult to maintain any momentum.

It’s frustrating – and it can make you feel like you’re being lazy or ineffective.

Don’t feel too guilty about it. Everyone has experienced difficulty getting back on track after some time away from their normal routine.

The Holiday Hustle
So why do you feel this way after an extended break? It’s simple, really. Holidays are a whirlwind of craziness and can really throw you off your game.

Your days are full of cooking, eating, cleaning, traveling to relatives homes, them traveling to yours, guests, family, going to the mall (where everyone but you has clearly lost their minds) – and if you’re lucky enough to live in the right region – snow removal accompanied by bitter cold.

It’s a magical time, is it not?

Eventually everyone goes home, you stop eating seven or eight meals a day, and it’s time to get back into your routine. Back to normal. Time to get grounded.

But when you sit down to open that first email or make that first call you just feel off track somehow.

Easing Back In
As much as I personally enjoy diving in and attacking a project, sometimes that’s not the answer. After an extended break, it helps to ease back in.

Think of your normal routine as a hot tub. It’s comfortable and cozy when you’re used to the hot water. But if you decide to go back in the water later after standing outside in the snow for a while, you would probably choose slowly re-acclimating to it over a cannon-ball.

That is exactly what you need to do to get your momentum back: Ease back in.


5 Steps To Reclaim Your Routine After An Extended Break

Here are five steps that you can take right now to get your momentum back after a break.

1: First Things First – Take Inventory
Let’s start with a baby step. Set aside a maximum of 10 minutes to take a quick inventory of things you know you can get done in the next two to three hours. The whole idea here is to get your mind back into your routine – not to take on everything. Stick to around 5 or 10 items, and spend no more than 10 minutes on this step. Trust me.

2: Go Away
That’s right – go away from your work for a few minutes. Go get a cup of coffee, have a conversation about sports with someone, or read a short article. Let that list percolate and go do something else. While I wouldn’t normally suggest working for just a few minutes and then taking a break, when you’re out of rhythm and looking to ground yourself you need to shake up the norm. Don’t let this turn into a half-hour waste of time. This is just a brief part of your mental rebooting.

3: Re-Read And Edit
When you go back and look at your list, begin by re-assessing it. Examine it carefully and see if you should remove or add any items. Think in terms of what would get you back into your routine and give you a sense of accomplishment.

4: Focus On Speed – Not Importance
For the purpose of getting back into our routine after a break, you are going to take a different perspective on your to-do list today. Usually people prioritize tasks based on their importance. Not today. Today, you are going to put your list in order of how quickly an item can be completed and crossed off. Remember the idea here is to accomplish something quickly so you start to get back to your normal pre-holiday self. Do the easiest, fastest thing first and cross it off. Then the next – then the next.

5: Complete And Reload
After crossing all those items off of your to-do list (even an easy one), you can’t help but start to feel more productive. Run with that feeling. Use this new momentum to ramp it up and begin organizing your more important bigger tasks. Start a new list full of new projects and new items to cross off.

If the holidays have you lagging and you can’t find your momentum, give this simple exercise a try. You’ll find that it helps get you on back track, re-focuses your efforts, and clears the way for bigger and better projects.

Do you feel out of sorts after the holidays? How do you get back into the routine? Share your tips and thoughts in the comments!


About Gary Korisko

Gary is a battle-tested sales and marketing pro, copywriter, coach, and business strategist who teaches how to create worthwhile work on Reboot Authentic. Connect with Gary on Google+ and Twitter.

16 Replies

  1. Priska

    Hi Gary,
    I liked the tip of focusing on speed instead of importance to get back in the groove as I have been in the habit of doing the MIT first. When out of sync getting back in can be a little overwhelming. Focusing on speed will give you that sense of achievement to keep going.

    1. Right! A win usually gets things rolling in the right direction. And it always feels good to look at a bunch of crossed off items on your to-do list!

  2. There’s only one thing I want you to tell me now, Gary …

    Where, exactly, did you hide the camera or microphone in my home, hmm?

    You nailed it — and the advice you offer sounds just right to me. Now come get your surveillance stuff, will you please?

    Happy New Year!

    1. Check the clock – and the Teddy Bear with the weird eye. 🙂

      I think we can all relate to this kind of thing around this time of the year.

  3. Hmmm, those are very interesting ideas, Gary. I like the thought of getting a lot of things done quickly to kind of jump-start getting back into the swing of things. Great stuff!

    1. Thanks much, Bobbi! Glad it connected with you.

  4. The suggestion of rearranging the to-do list to put the quickest things at the top is great! It appeals both to my sense of making it easy to get started and also to the elation I feel when I cross something off of my to-do list.

    1. Exactly. Sometimes playing a little “head game” with yourself can lead to more productive things. As Bobbi said (below) it’s like a jump-start. Thanks for stopping by, Patti – and for contributing to the conversation.

  5. It’s the opposite for me – the start of the period after the holiday represents a new opportunity. I tend to be most motivated in the days after. It’s maintaining the momentum that becomes difficult.

    1. Gary_RA

      I wish my brain worked that way, Amit. That’s fantatsic. And I agree with your momentum comment. It can certainly be a challenge.

  6. Suzanne Stormon

    I like your idea of sneaking up on your work after a break. Sometimes, after a long break, things can get overwhelming but if you trick yourself into doing something you can get going.

    1. Gary_RA

      Exactly. Progress, not perfection. Small wins are still wins.

      Thanks for the comment, Suzanne – and for becoming an Insider today. I’m very happy you’re here!

  7. I’m kinda like Amit…You should just see my 2013 planner! It’s LOADED! And I’m actually getting stuff done. 🙂 Yay… But when I am feeling unmotivated, it definitely helps me to make a list of easy stuff, then start checking it off. I end up feeling so accomplished that I usually move on to more important tasks. Usually.

    1. Gary_RA

      You’re a planner person. I used to be, but with all the travel I’ve gone to iPhone reminders and now I’m trying to master Evernote – which is wonderful. I don’t think I’m even scratching the surface of what it can do.

      Good to see you here, Kaylee!

  8. ralphjp

    Good stuff! I took inventory at the beginning of this year and it really helped the way I structured my goals. I usually have a list of 20 things I want to accomplish and I rev up and get them done half way through the year. Then I have to choose new things to finish off my year.

    This year I just pick three of the most important goals and made them bigger. They will probably take the whole year to accomplish and will take an enourms amount of effort. My hope is the little accomplishments will happen along the way. Nice post.

    1. Wow – you sound like an organized and motivated guy, Ralph. Good for you. I’m glad you enjoyed the post & thanks very much for contributing to the conversation!

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