There are many reasons why you might have a hard time getting work done after your vacation. But before you can take steps to energize yourself, you need to understand a little more about why you’re having trouble getting started, says Art Markman for Harvard Business Review.

The mountain seems too high
Vacations take you out of the office, and that creates physical and mental distance from your work. Research suggests that the more distant you are from something, the more abstractly you think about it.

When it comes to work, distance is a double-edged sword. It can help you think about your priorities, but it can also make the sheer volume of what you have to accomplish seem insurmountable.

That means you need to turn the abstract task into specific steps you can complete. Go back to your to-do list and dedicate specific times to addressing particular components of the bigger project. Get some advice from others who have succeeded on similar projects if you need some help determining the next steps you need to take. Also, reach out to colleagues whose help you’re going to need to find out when they can be available to do their part. Use their availability to help yourself set deadlines for completing particular aspects of the work.

Nothing seems that important
When you go on vacation, you realign your priorities. Chances are, you spend some time with family or friends and reconnect with other passions like travel, exercise or just lying around with a good book.

When you get back to the workplace, you may need to convince yourself that the collection of tasks you’re doing is worth the effort. Take the time to look at the work you’ve done over the past few months and catalog what it has added up to. What are the big-picture things you’ve accomplished? In what ways have you affected the lives of other people?

The real sense of mission in your work comes from that combination of seeing how the tasks you perform are connected to a more significant set of outcomes. Coming back from vacation can help you focus on the ways that your work isn’t just a job, but also a calling.

You’re stuck in a rut
If you’re not getting a sense of daily engagement, the job you’re in may no longer be a challenge for you. Moving forward in your career requires two key steps.

First, identify a role that would provide the challenge you want. It might be helpful to work with a mentor to help you find new opportunities that might be appealing. Second, think about the additional skills you need to be a good fit for those roles.

During the pandemic, a lot of people put off additional training and education that might enhance their skills. However, a lot of great training and other classes from universities and other providers have moved online. There’s also a wealth of degree programs and noncredit options tailored for people trying to advance their careers. New knowledge and skills can help you re-energize when you have trouble getting motivated.