5 Tips for Enjoying Your Vacation from Work

Published: Jun 22, 2016

 Workplace Issues       
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This week, I will be going on a short vacation with the family for the first time since starting my new job, and it got me thinking about how important it is to take a vacation. Taking a break—however long—is necessary to regroup and come back refreshed, yet many employees have worries about leaving work. It seems the higher you go up the food chain at work, the more worried you are about taking days off. The truth is, a vacation benefits both the employee and the employer. Here are some rules you can follow when taking time away from the office.

Use Your Vacation Days: Vacation time is discussed by human resources—and possibly management—during the negotiation period of a job offer. Vacation time is part of your benefits package that comes with a job; for every month you work, you accrue vacation time, and that vacation time might disappear at the start of a new year. If you don’t take your free days, you are essentially wasting away relaxation time. While some companies might force their employees to take the vacation time they have accrued, others won’t, allowing the company to benefit from not paying you vacation days. In many ways, not taking a vacation only benefits the employer, and not you. Employees wouldn’t turn down a paycheck or pay full cost for health coverage, so why give up an opportunity to take the days you worked for?  

Don’t Just Burn Through Them: This is hard, but a lot of companies bundle vacation time and sick time, and taking all your vacation time at once leaves you in a tough spot when you catch a horrible cold, your kids get sick, or something more serious comes up. You need to plan ahead and make sure you have some days set aside for those unplanned moments that always seem to pop up in life. If you really need a vacation because you hate your job, you may want to set aside some vacation time to use for a job search or interview. Worst case scenario: you have some extra time to play with around the holidays.

Plan Around Others: Ok…this is not a rule, but you will thank me later for suggesting this. A vacation allows you to get away from work and enjoy some much needed relaxation. Imagine one or two weeks of pure bliss – no stress. Now, think back to the time when your boss took a vacation. Yes, you might have had more work on your plate, but you didn’t have a supervisor around, so you felt more at ease. When you take a vacation around the same time as your boss, you limit your freedom. Make the most of your time and plan time away when others are in the office, both to offset the workload and to stagger absences. I’d recommend applying this to lunch as well.

Relax: That seems simple, but, if you were scared to take your vacation time, you are probably the type of person worried about what is going on in the office when you’re not there. You might have the urge to call in, but you shouldn’t. Vacation allows you to recharge your batteries but it also allows you an opportunity to think creatively outside the office environment, to possibly even employ some outside-the-box strategies when you come back to work. But first, enjoy some me time, time with your significant other, your family, and the time to catch up with friends. This is your time, so make the most of it and relax. 

Do Work Before You Return: One of the reasons why so many people are nervous about taking a vacation is because they are worried about the work pile that will await them upon their return. I have a foolproof strategy for this problem. Before leaving for a vacation, work on or delegate some of the larger tasks that needed to be completed, and leave the easy tasks aside, because they are less burdensome to complete when you return. In addition, take the occasional lull in a vacation to quickly check your email (on your own time) and respond to things that might be urgent. As long as you limit the checking to once or twice during your time away, you will still be able to enjoy the vacation while keeping in mind that you are not piling on work. By doing this, you limit the after-vacation stress to a minimum.

Now, schedule a vacation, clear off your workload, and take a moment to recharge.

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