It’s that time of the year when everyone’s in a good mood before the holidays, the biggest meeting is actually the holiday office party, and everyone’s excited to take a little time off to spend time with family. Leaving the office and knowing you won’t return for a few days is a truly wonderful feeling. But sometimes being away for too long causes you to imagine work is piling up without you and you’ll return to a mountain of tasks that’ll make you question why you even went on vacation. Don’t stress yourself out with these thoughts. Most likely, that’s not going to happen. But it’s always good to keep yourself productive during breaks to make the transition back to work after the holidays a little easier.

Here are the top 5 ways to stay productive on your time off:

Keep up with the news: Reading up on trending and current news is a good habit and even pretty fun. Keep up with industry news that relates to your job during the holidays and you’ll have plenty of ideas for the New Year. Maybe you’ll even come up with bold and exciting plans for your work. Your iPhone comes with a helpful news app that lets you pick and choose which types of articles you want to be notified of. Make use of this function and you won’t even have to search for industry news.

Control Your Email Itch: Checking emails is one of those habits that can lead you to waste hours at a time just by simply going through them, answering them, and deleting old messages. It’s no surprise that constant email checking gives you a negative attitude towards it and can actually make you less productive the more you check your messages. Instead, turn off your email notifications on your phone and set a specific 15-minute block to go through any recent emails you might have received. This way you’ll be more motivated to answer any new and important emails and not get sucked in to continuously sorting through the rest.

Prepare Ahead of Time: If part of your job requires you to schedule things in advance, there are easy ways to make sure everything gets out on time. Make use of calendar planning apps that come with helpful tricks to keep all of your project files together. Asana is one of these apps that lets you include links, files, and detailed descriptions for each item you need to add to your calendar. It also notifies you if you have a deadline coming up so you can stay on schedule and get all of your needed material in the tap of a button even when you’re on the go.

Learn Something New: In between the family gatherings and catching up with old friends, there’s always some down time. Make use of this free time in a productive manner and learn something new that will help you improve your job responsibilities. Read up on tips for how to do your job better and look into new projects you want to get started on when the New Year starts.

Don’t Stress Yourself Out: The best way to recharge for the big projects coming up at the beginning of next year is to take a few days off to just relax and be with family. If you need to check your emails once in a while, do so sparingly. Don’t attempt to work on any big projects or start on new ones. Chances are, you’ll be going at it alone, as your teammates won’t be able to collaborate with you. Just enjoy your much-needed break and you’ll come back to your office more energized to work and maybe even find yourself more passionate about your job.

The important thing to remember about being productive during the holidays is that you won’t be as productive as you would be if you were at work – and that’s okay. If there were no breaks in your life, you’d burn out fast and never get any work done. This is the time to wind down after a busy year and prepare yourself for what’s to come next year. Keep these 5 tips in mind to keep your productivity at a good level without stressing yourself out during your break.

Bonus Tip: A great way to let coworkers know when you’re out for the holidays is with YouMail’s status greeting which lets callers know you’re on vacation right in your voicemail greeting. Check us out here.