Whether your ideal spring break is spent on a beach in Cancun or just enjoying the warmer weather in your backyard, chances are thoughts about work are going to creep into your brain during your time off.

If you’re concerned about being overwhelmed upon your return to your desk, here are some suggestions on how to stay productive while still maintaining the very important “break” element of spring break. 

1. Prioritize

“Before the break, determine what absolutely needs to be done versus what tasks would be nice to complete,” Jillian Shadis, director of counseling at Ridge High School in Bernards, New Jersey, and member of the New Jersey School Counselor Association, recommends. “What will you need to accomplish to feel like you’re starting with one foot ahead — or at least a clean slate — when you return? Make a list and prioritize. Schedule time to work on those must-do tasks, preferably early on in the week. Get it done early so that you’ll be able to relax.” Time coach and author Elizabeth Grace Saunders agrees that you need to be specific about what you plan to accomplish during the break and limit the hours you’ll devote to that task. “By keeping it clear exactly what you’re working on and limiting the time you spend on it, you keep yourself from feeling like you’re working the entire time.”

“Whatever city I am visiting, I try to squeeze in a college tour.”

– Kristen Moon

2. Mix Business With Pleasure While Traveling

Going on a trip for spring break? Make part of it a business trip. Kristen Moon, founder of MoonPrep, says, “Whatever city I am visiting, I try to squeeze in a college tour. You get a good idea of the city, public transport options and also a feel for the campus.” Experiencing the campuses of the schools you discuss gives you a much richer pool of information to share with your students. 

3. Help Out Your Juniors

The earlier part of the year can easily be consumed by the many needs of college-bound seniors. With applications in and the acceptance decision deadline still a few weeks away, Cara Hanig of IvyWise says spring break is a good time to transition to your juniors’ application process. She suggests reviewing any notes from previous visits with your juniors to identify their school selection criteria and brainstorming new schools for their college lists with a fresh perspective.  

4. Refamiliarize Yourself With Local Schools

You don’t have to travel far from home to get acquainted with colleges your students may be interested in attending. “Spring break is a good time to visit local and community colleges,” Leslie Thatcher, interim director of college counseling at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall, says. “Seeing and meeting people at these colleges will allow you to speak authentically as you talk with your students.” Even if you’re familiar with your local schools, you may learn about a new program, scholarship or plans for a new building. Thatcher adds, “I recommend booking an official tour as well as taking time to sit in the school’s coffee shop to observe and get a real feel for the environment.”

Above all, spring break is supposed to be a break, not just for your students, but for you, too. Make sure you get some rest and limit your instinct to be productive all break long.

Interviews for this article were conducted in 2017.