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So you’ve had a couple sporadic getaways this year, but you’ve still got some vacation time left and you’ve decided that you definitely want to use it. You’d like to take a trip someplace remote but you’re not sure of how to balance the logistics of leaving work and returning. Here’s what you should do:
Time it right
Be conscious of what work will be like during the time you request off. Taking vacation will cause fewer problems if you time it along the company’s schedule, like right after a busy period. Sarah and I travel in July or August mostly because that’s when summer vacation comes around, but it makes sense for her, too. May and June are the busy months at her job when they undergo review for their annual license. After those hectic few weeks, people are more understanding of her need for a vacation, and they’re grateful that she didn’t try to request it when everyone else was putting in more than usual. She’s right there alongside them when they need her, earning that time off in everyone’s eyes. Sure, the places we go are hotter because it’s later in the season, but we deal with it, at least partly because she respects her job.
Only take a week off
You see, because you put in for this vacation with plenty of advance notice, everyone has already planned on your not being there. You haven’t left anyone hanging, so they’re not anxiously awaiting your return. In fact, no one will even begin to miss you until the Monday before you get back when they realize, hey, where is he, anyway? When people finally start to question your whereabouts, the answer will be that you’re coming back tomorrow. And, when you do, wow! You brought in piña colada mix for everyone! The best part is that when your review comes up, as far as anyone can remember, you only took a week of vacation. They should be thanking you for leaving some time in the bank.
I’m not talking about a work week, but one whole week. Seems crazy? Here’s how: catch your plane on a Friday and come back ten days later on a Tuesday. That’s a really long vacation from your perspective, but it won’t seem that way to your job. Say you went to work that Friday but left a little early and caught the plane that night. If you came back to work ten days later on Tuesday, you’d only have missed six days of work — count ‘em. You could even go nuts and take that whole Friday off, leave the night before on Thursday, and take a full seven days off from work. That way, your vacation would completely span two whole weekends.
Get back to work
Also, keep in mind that the truth is most people won’t want to hear about your vacation for more than a few minutes. In fact, don’t even bring it up until someone else does. Doing so will just breed resentment. However, if someone else decides to take a vacation, you should be super supportive. Ask them plenty of questions, and let them do all the talking. Don’t give advice or talk about your own vacation. That’s annoying.
Who knows? If enough people start noticing that taking a week off isn’t a big deal, and that those who do are a lot happier in their job, maybe you will be the one who shifts the culture at your workplace toward the healthy practice of using up vacation time.
What do you think?
Is it a problem to take time off at your job?
Is this advice relevant where you work?
Should Americans have more time off from work?