Summer backslide…have you heard of it? I don’t care how well you did on your final exam in 7th grade math – the first weeks of 8th grade math were probably a confusing slog. Most students forget some of what they learned the previous year during summer vacation. It’s called summer learning loss, or the summer backslide, and if your time management game isn’t on point, it might be about to happen to you.

Are Your Time Management Strategies Vacation-Proof?

How severe summer learning loss or summer backslide really is for our kids is debatable, mostly because the bulk of the research on this topic happened in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, when kids had very different summer experiences. But I suspect a lot of my fellow parents have noticed this phenomenon in their own children.

Today, though, I’m thinking about how summer learning loss affects professionals, too. You’re probably not taking the entire summer off, but I hope you still have a vacation or extended break coming up before the season is over.

When you get back into work mode when that break is over, will you be able to…

  • Jump in, quickly catch up and move forward?
  • Or spend the next week scrambling just to keep your head above water?

Some of how this goes certainly depends on your job specifics. If you’re an entrepreneur, getting back into the swing of things will be different than it would be for a nurse or an office worker. But the backward slide can happen to anyone, and it’s not just a summer problem. If you’ve ever worked through sickness just because you were worried about things piling up while you were out, you know what I’m talking about.

The Domino Effect

Needing to take some time to get up to speed on where you left off, pre-break, isn’t necessarily a huge time suck. It’s unavoidable, in any case – all those emails and voicemails that rolled in while you were out have to be dealt with, and you may not be able to move ahead with your next tasks without touching base with coworkers/clients or reviewing the things you were working on before you took off.

But – think about what happens when a storm delays all flights for hours. When it clears, the delayed planes can finally take off. If they’re a few hours behind schedule, the flights behind them end up delayed too. The domino effect can last for a few days and affect the travel schedules of millions.

The domino effect can happen at work too, right? When you’re trying to catch up to where you left off, what happens to all the tasks you would normally attend to during that time?

Maybe you push it off until tomorrow – but then tomorrow becomes an extra-heavy day, and some of that work gets pushed off until the next day. Meanwhile, if your time management strategies aren’t working for you, you’re still struggling with the same feelings of overwhelm and frustration that affect you every day.

That’s why it’s so important to minimize your backward slide and maximize your productivity around vacation time. I want you to have truly restful break periods, and that’s not possible when you’re worried about what will happen when you get back to work.

If you feel like you need some help with this, click on the replay of my Free Masterclass: Get it done AND have fun: 3 Keys for Your Best Summer Ever!



Sarah Reiff-Hekking