As a writer you have a lot of opportunities to ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ Writing an article about not using your vacation days is one of those topics. I would always advise you to take your vacation time – it’s an opportunity to connect with family, enjoy a hobby and feel re-charged in going back to the office. I’m a big believer in work-life balance. My favorite part of working from home is taking regular, 15-minute power breaks – (which sometimes include throwing dinner in the crock pot or doing laundry, if I’m honest). I don’t feel guilty for those short breaks because I know I come back to my desk and the task at hand with a fresh perspective.
But as much as I believe in a power break, I’m much less diligent in taking actual vacation time. My boss recently emailed me and said I had 148 hours of vacation and personal time, two-thirds of that being ‘use it or loose it’ time that would disappear in 2015. Time for a vacation, you might say.
Today’s generation includes more professionals than ever who are living to work, not working to live. Beyond that, most of us take our jobs home with us (even those of us who don’t work from home). It’s hard to imagine not double-checking your smart phone before you go to bed and first thing in the morning. As work and home continue to blend, the idea of taking a true personal day or actual vacation becomes a very foreign concept. Here are a few reasons people often don’t take vacation time:
1. I think I’m a beautiful and unique snowflake.
This is me. There are many days when I should have taken the day off – sick kids, sick me, or personal conflict. But I didn’t, because I had a newsletter to send, important call to make or article to edit. Instead of passing the task along to someone else, I do it. I tell myself that I don’t want to burden others – the truth is I’m arrogant and think that for some reason I’m uniquely qualified for the task. You may be your company’s rockstar, or your only company rep on a particular contract, but even then chances are you’re better off calling in sick than sucking it up and doing a 50% job. And unless your company sucks your coworkers are likely glad to help you out.
2. I can’t afford a vacation.
I often view vacation time as something to be used when I’m travelling. Like I literally have to hop on a plane and flee the country before I’ll consider myself separated from my job. The stay-cation is a beautiful gift given to those of us who can’t afford (the time or money) to travel to a distant land. A day at home can be a beautiful thing. A week at home can be even more glorious. Read a novel, start a new hobby, visit a museum. All of those are worthy excuses for a vacation.
3. for every day i take off, I’ll spend an extra four hours in the office later.
This is somewhat true. Taking vacation time will incur some work on the front and back end. You may ask yourself if it’s worth it – it is. There are a few tips for making your time off better:
- Create an out of office reply. The out of office reply has been criticized in recent years, by those who support the idea that you should always be reachable. But the point of a vacation is to be unreachable. Create an out of office reply.
- Leave someone else in charge. It’s hard to turn over the keys, we know, but if you want to enjoy your vacation, you have to do this.
- Delete email. You don’t have to read all of your email. I repeat, you don’t need to read every email you receive. If you come home to 500 unread messages, filter by priority senders, and be okay if you miss something. See point one and remember – life will go on if you don’t read that email.
Ready to go on a vacation yet? If you have unused days getting ready to disappear, you should be. Remember that the only reasons not to use your vacation are just excuses. Your work – and you- will be better if take some time away.
What are your excuses for not taking vacation? What’s the best vacation you ever went on/you’re glad you took? Drop a note in the comments!